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Kickstarting Urban Renewal with an Underground Park Kickstarting Urban Renewal with an Underground Park

Kickstarting Urban Renewal with an Underground Park

by Zak Stone

February 29, 2012

We’ve been in love with the idea ever since it surfaced last fall: a four-season underground park beneath the hectic streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The concept for the “Delancey Underground” has been drifting around design blogs and New York publications for months now, making lovers of innovative urban space salivate. Now the founders of the project, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, have turned to Kickstarter, not only to raise funds, but to prove to local government that the public is serious about making the project a reality. 
 
If this is the first you’ve heard about it, the Delancey Underground is a concept for transforming a defunct trolley terminal for streetcars coming off the Williamsburg Bridge into public space. The design would preserve the hub's unique, turn-of-the-century features, including cobblestones, rail tracks and vaulted ceilings, while integrating green design technologies, like fiber optic cables to bring natural sunlight underground. The space is nicknamed the "LowLine," a below-ground version of the beloved High Line, the park installed in abandoned tracks high above New York's Chelsea neighborhood in 2009. If all goes well, the space will become home to more than just park-goers on a cold or rainy day. Think art installations, farmers markets, and concerts. 
 
"This space will be more than a space," the founders wrote on their Kickstarter. "It will generate community, and it will inspire in the way beautiful environments can inspire."
 
Since the fall, Barasch and Ramsey have already entered conversations with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, who owns the site and would like to see it put to good use, as well as local community groups. They’ve been perfecting the solar technology that's key to the project's success and working on a feasibility study. But it's essential to demonstrate to the city and MTA how badly the public wants this project, and installing a full-scale model of the Lowline to raise awareness is the next step.
 
They created their Kickstarter campaign just a week ago, and already they're at 60 percent of their $100,000 goal. Check it out here
 
 
Image courtesy of Delancey Underground
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