Just south of James J. Walker Park in the West Village is an open space that has been eyed enviously by many affordable and supportive housing advocates. Nearly half of the block facing Hudson Street, bordered by Clarkson and Houston Streets, is owned by the city and will be used for the Dept. of Environmental Protection’s improved water distribution system. After remaining dormant for years, construction activity seems to be happening. This photo looks east through the fence on Hudson Street toward the colorful and intricate “City-as-School” mural of recent vintage, which has been one of the most dramatic public artworks to ever bless our neighborhood. The art continues around the corners of the historic school building. The digging equipment and stockpile of pipes and fittings hint at future work, while the tangled scraps of large rusty pipes tell us that old spent pipes are giving way to new distribution networks. The city has recently finalized park-like improvements for other water system sites at the lot next to the Merchant’s House Museum and the corner lot at Lafayette and Grand Streets, much to the appreciation of their neighbors, despite many utility restrictions for the underground system. What does the future hold for this plum location? A park? Supportive housing? We’ll stay alert for new developments here. Text and photo by Brian J Pape, AIA.


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