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New York City appoints first Chief Public Realm Officer

This could be a good idea:

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today appointed Ya-Ting Liu as the city’s first-ever chief public realm officer, delivering on a key promise from his State of the City address. In this newly created role, Liu will coordinate across city government, community organizations, and the private sector to create extraordinary public spaces across the entire city and continue to drive the city’s economic recovery.

As chief public realm officer, Liu will focus on delivering two components of Mayor Adams’ “Working People’s Agenda.” She will execute on a plan to invest $375 million to create and expand high-quality public spaces in all five boroughs, which includes the Broadway Vision plan, a full reconstruction of Jamaica Avenue from Sutphin Boulevard to Merrick Boulevard, and permanent upgrades to Open Streets in the Bronx and on Staten Island. At the same time, she will lead the administration’s work to deliver a permanent outdoor dining program in partnership with the City Council that works for businesses and residents, building on the massive success of the pandemic-era temporary Open Restaurants program, with clear design guidelines and accessible tools for restaurant owners and communities.

When done right, public spaces have been proven to promote economic development. Perhaps the most obvious example in New York is the High Line. The first two phases cost around $153 million to construct, and as of 2014 it was already attracting some 5 million visitors a year and thought to be responsible for over $2 billion of economic activity. As of 2019, the number of annual visitors had increased to 8 million.

So if New York ends up with more of these spaces — you know, enjoyable spaces that attract lots of humans and investment — this could be a good idea.

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