Lowline Project receives First City Approval to create the world’s first underground park


Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer today announced that NYCEDC has selected the Lowline, to bring the world’s first underground park to the Lower East Side. This conditional designation serves as the first major step in making this project a reality, resulting in a community-oriented public and cultural space that will serve as both a resource for local residents and an attraction for visitors from around the world.

The Lowline aims to use cutting edge solar technology to transform the abandoned former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal (located under Delancey Street) into the world’s first underground park — a spectacular, one-acre underground public space. By delivering sunlight underground and activating photosynthesis to create lush year-round gardens, the Lowline will use new science and design to help New Yorkers — and city dwellers all over the world — to re-imagine public place-making and community building.

“New York City is the place where visionary ideas get turned into tangible realities,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer. “Today we move one step closer to making the Lowline a reality, which will serve as a cultural and educational hub for this vibrant community and pioneer cutting-edge technology.”

Last fall, NYCEDC in collaboration with the Metropolitan Transit Authority put out a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) for development plans involving the long-term lease and activation of the vacant Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, currently owned by the City and leased to the MTA. The trolley terminal is approximately 60,000 square feet and runs underneath Delancey Street between Clinton Street and Norfolk Street. Based on their response to that RFEI, NYCEDC has designated the Lowline team for the use of the space, and requires them to meet a number of conditions in order to move forward with the project. Specifically, the Lowline is required to:

  • Implement a robust community engagement plan, including 5-10 public design charrettes and quarterly Community Engagement Committee meetings.
  • Reach a fundraising target of $10 million in the next twelve months.
  • Complete schematic design documents and present them for approval in the next twelve months.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled for this opportunity to turn a magical dream into reality,” said Dan Barasch, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Lowline.  “The transformation of an old, forgotten trolley terminal into a dynamic cultural space designed for a 21st century city is truly a New York story.  We know with input from the community and the city, we can make the Lowline a unique, inspiring space that everyone can enjoy.”

For more information on the Lowline, visit http://thelowline.org/


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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/