Union Square Renovation FAQ

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  1. Who approved the renovation project?
  2. Who started the renovation project?
  3. What’s going on with the renovation?
  4. Why a lawsuit?
  5. What is the likely outcome of the lawsuit?
  6. What will the restaurant be like?
  7. What happened to the trees?
  8. Who is paying for the restaurant?
  9. Who will profit from the restaurant?
  10. Didn’t there use to be a restaurant here?
  11. Why not have a restaurant?
  12. Why did Rosie Mendez support this?
  13. Who is the BID?
  14. Who are we?
  1. Who approved the renovation project?

    CB 2 Council Member Rosie Mendez supports privatization of the pavilion. Amongst elected representatives of the area, only she and Christine Quinn’s rubber stamp stand on this side of the issue.

  2. Who started the renovation project?The local Business Improvement District (BID) designed and lobbied for this renovation and has joined with the Park Department. No community group supports the restaurant plan, in more than 4 years of public discourse not a single person has come forward in support of the plan who was not directly connected to the BID (Union Square Partnership).
  3. What’s going on with the renovation?The plans for the renovation of the north end of Union Square project were put forth in 2004, and then amended in 2006 through significant community activism. There is currently an injunction against any further restaurant construction on the site.
  4. Why a lawsuit?The Parks Department and the BID failed to obtain permission to put a private, non-park entity on park land from the state legislature. The BID and the Parks Department claim it is not a clear case of alienation; the plaintiffs in the case, the Union Square Community Coalition, are making the case that it is.
  5. What is the likely outcome of the lawsuit?There is no written law about alienation, therefore the judge makes the decision based entirely on precedents, and relies almost entirely on his/ her discretion. Still, the case is a good one if the judge pays attention to the facts.
  6. What will the restaurant be like?Plans are for a tablecloth restaurant with more than 100 seats; detailed plans for the project had to be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. These plans reveal that the restaurant will use at least 4000 square feet including indoor dining area (1500), kitchen (1900), and bathrooms (600) and that does not include the outdoor dining and patio areas, which are the centerpiece of the expansion into the park and are clearly visible in architectural renderings.
  7. What happened to the trees?14 trees were cut down altogether: four of them 80-year-old elms, one of which was slightly ill.
  8. Who is paying for the restaurant?The restaurant plan is being paid for by an anonymous $7.1 million donation.
  9. Who will profit from the restaurant? It is unknown who will profit from the restaurant, or who the proprietor will be. The BID, the Parks Department, and City Council member Rosie Mendez are all protecting this information.
  10. Didn’t there use to be a restaurant here?The previous restaurant, Luna Park, was installed in 1992; prior to that the pavilion was used for children’s play space & educational purposes. The current plan includes a net loss of more than two thousand feet children’s play space.
  11. Why not have a restaurant?Union Square has the highest density of restaurants and the lowest density of public space in the whole city. Also, we don’t think people should be able to profit from the use of public space at this level.
  12. Why did Rosie Mendez support this?Rosie Mendez claims that money earmarked by her predecessor Margarita Lopez would disappear if not used immediately. There is no evidence that this is the case.
  13. Who is the BID?Union Square Partnership is made up of members of many businesses in the area. Jennifer Falk, the executive director of the Union Square Partnership, is Mike Bloomberg’s former press secretary.

    Danny Meyer is the co-chair of the board of the BID; he is famous for privatizing parks around New York City. It is not coincidental that this plan depends on the mayor’s funding allocations, or on less-than-transparent deals.

  14. Who are we?Union Square: Not For Sale is a group of NYC citizens trying to save The Pavilion from privatization, keep public parks public, and demand transparency from our elected officials.
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