Plans have been scrapped for a new fitness area to be built under the ramp to a busy footbridge on the East River Esplanade and that’s a good thing. Almost exactly a year after the waterfront outdoor workout space on the Upper East Side was initially proposed, a brand new design in a better location is now getting a thumbs-up from neighbors.
Rather than having exercise equipment, including pull-up bars, vertical chest press, parallel bars, sit-up bench and an arm bike all stationed underneath the ramp to the East 78th Street pedestrian bridge, as originally presented to Community Board 8 last year, the design team would have to start from scratch because of the Department of Transportation said it would not approve the location.
“[DOT] issued their final ruling that they would not allow it [under the ramp],” explained Andy Moore of Quinnell Rothschild, the landscape architecture firm leading the esplanade improvement project, “So, we’ve been scrambling and looking for another place on the Esplanade to put the fitness equipment.
The redesigned space will be located three blocks south, near East 75th Street, just north of the Con-Ed building, where the esplanade widens and before the pathway narrows.
A rendering presented to CB8’s Parks and Waterfront Committee on Monday night shows the stone path curve around the outdoor fitness area, which will be visually separated from the walkway thanks to a special blue safety surface for exercising.
“This way we can give a little more space around equipment,” Moore said, “Have it arranged a little more comfortably within this area.”
The extra space also allowed for the addition of parallel bars and pull-up bars that are accessible to people with disabilities.
“They’re very high quality pieces of equipment,” Moore added, noting that the brand is the same one NYC Parks has been installing in public spaces citywide, “We think they’re really good and they’ll last long.”
The esplanade outdoor fitness area is being funded by the Hospital for Special Surgery as part of the medical center’s dramatic $150 million expansion that will build a 12-story tower on top of the FDR Drive next to the main HSS campus.
As part of the new hospital tower’s construction, HSS promised to make improvements to the crumbling East River Esplanade from 72nd to 78th Streets.
Don’t get your hopes up about working out in the esplanade fitness area anytime soon. It’s not expected to be open to the public until mid-2025.
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