By: Ben Strachman  | 

Completion of 185th Street Plaza Renovation, Years In The Making, Delayed

Completion of the construction on West 185th Street is being delayed due to energy company Con Edison, a spokesperson for the project said.

Shavone Williams, Public Information Officer for the NYC Department of Design and Construction, stated that while the renovations were originally expected be completed by the summer, the finish date has been pushed off to the fall.  She said that although the underground construction was an expected part of the renovations, working around energy company Con Edison’s work schedule has delayed the project.

"We expected that there was going to be [gas pipe and electrical conduit replacement] anyway, it’s just that that type of work has to be taken of by Con Edison. It could have just been one of those things where their schedule towards [the expected completion date] prohibits them from starting the work at a certain time or finishing by a certain time. We have to work around them, and we can’t start our part until they’re finished. We’re hoping, weather permitting, that they will finish their portion this month.”

After Con Edison completes their work, students will begin to see improvements on the street, most of which will be finished by the summer. According to Joseph Cook, Executive Director for University Operations, “It’ll all be done by summer of 2017, except for the planting. They’ve gotten so far behind that they’re going to miss the spring planting, so the actual planting of all the shrubs, flowers, [and other plants] will be done in summer 2017.”

Ms. Williams noted that the complexity of the project arose from the intersection of separate plans that ultimately combined into the current construction on 185th. The NYC Department of Transportation requested years ago that the underground water mains on the street be replaced. When the plans to create a plaza on 185th began, the Department of Design and Construction included that work in the current project, and Triumph Construction won the contract to renovate the plaza and replace the water mains. Before any plaza or water work could take place, however, Con Edison needed to move and replace gas and electric lines.

After construction workers began replacing pipes on 185th Street and the project remained relatively inactive over the winter, the lack of information has left many YU students confused.

“I don't know much about the current state of the construction other than what I’ve seen on the signs and posters with the picture-perfect depiction of the future plaza, which are up around YU,” said Avi Hirsch, a Yeshiva College Sophomore. “While I've heard people mention that the underground work involves fixing the pipes, I haven’t been informed of the details.”

According to Mr. Cook, the completion of the plaza represents the culmination of a project planned for years.

“The plaza renovations were started by Jeffrey Rosengarten, the Vice President for Support Services, probably 20 years ago. Over time, [185th Street] was slowly closed, restricted, and at the same they went into a fund raising mode, so the unviersity in effect reached out to all different government agencies, and found funding in the city [government]. They found some funding to slowly do this, and this was a very long process.”

After Mr. Rosengarten’s application to have 185th street included in the city’s pedestrian plaza project was rejected in 2008, the university tried again in 2011, this time willing to contribute money to the project. In the end, according to Ms. Williams, part of the funding for the $3.6 million project "came from Council member Rodriguez, Comptroller Scott Stringer while he was still Manhattan Borough President, and the Department of Transportation." Mr. Cook confirmed that YU did not pay for the current round of renovations at all.

When asked whether there are currently any plans to block off more of Amsterdam Avenue, Mr. Cook stated that while the city doesn’t allow avenues to be closed off to traffic entirely, the part of the street that is currently blocked off will also be renovated and resurfaced as part of the current renovations.