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Less than a year after its revival, Hell’s Kitchen’s beloved Astro’s Dog Run faces closure as a result of the Port Authority’s wide-ranging expansion plans

Astro's Dog Run
Mike Mellenger and his dog Hudson at Astro’s Dog Run alongside the Port Authority ramp. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The 10th Avenue dog park — which was renovated and re-keyed by passionate local pet owners last June and provides recreational space for nearly 300 local pups — is on the chopping block as part of the Port Authority’s $3 billion dollar capital expansion and renovation overhaul of its Midtown bus terminal and transit facilities. Astro’s, which sits next to a Port Authority bus ramp between W39th and W40th Streets, would be rendered inaccessible in early 2024 as part of the terminal’s ongoing construction.

Astro’s Dog Run volunteers told W42ST that though the Port Authority has been supportive of the center in the past, there has been “no official communication” to the group on the site’s closure. “One of the people on our advisory board reached out to [the Port Authority] because we were hoping to have Astro’s included in the redesign of the new bus terminal — but that didn’t happen,” said Astro’s advisory board member Mike Mellenger.  “When we found out that wouldn’t happen was also when they advised us that the dog run would be closing this year. But interestingly enough, there have been no official letters or communication. It’s all just been through informal word of mouth.” 

Board member Peter Shankman, the proud owner of frequent Astro’s visitor Waffle the dog, added: “As kind as the Port Authority has been to give us the space and to offer help when we needed it and construction, at the end of the day, I don’t believe we’re that important to them. They’re not going to change anything about a multi-billion dollar redesign to accommodate a dog park, no matter how good it might seem from a public relations standpoint.” 

The park also includes a community garden tended by Huong Huang, who told W42ST of the news: “This sliver of land called Astro’s Dog Run and Garden has been more than a gathering place for many four-legged friends and their owners for the past 26 years. It has created a vibrant community, blossoming friendships, and the garden is a colorful, green and luscious stop to enjoy as people traverse the concrete sidewalks of the far West side.The loss is immense if the Run is to close permanently at a time when there are more people moving into the neighborhood. As a long-time Hell’s Kitchen resident and community gardener, I am heart broken upon hearing the news! I hope the Port Authority and CB4 can help us with securing an alternative site.”

Members of Astro’s Dog run reached out to representatives from the Port Authority to look for an alternative spot within the agency’s Midtown properties, but as of yet have not found a solution. Dyer Avenue and W36th Street was a possibility, said Mike, as the Port Authority had hoped to turn the area into a public plaza. “They hinted to us that the land had been taken over — potentially by squatters,” said Mike. “If we converted that area into a fenced-in dog park, maybe it would be a win for dog owners and better for the neighborhood.” W42ST reached out to the Port Authority about the potential for a relocation and a representative told us: “We look forward to working with the local community and government stakeholders to identify details of the streetscape and other street-level design features to complement our plans for more than three acres of new public green space as the development of the project progresses.”

Astro's Dog Run
The team at Astro’s Dog Run in June 2022 getting ready to welcome new visitors. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The crew at Astro’s has also looked elsewhere in Hell’s Kitchen, hoping to keep a central-to-Southern outpost for local dog owners who may find Pier 84 or Dewitt Clinton a long walk. Bella Abzug Park, also in the process of a large-scale expansion, was an immediate draw for its closeness to many pet-friendly Hell’s kitchen highrises, said Mike.  “We met with the Manhattan Community Board 4 Waterfront, Parks and Environment Committee,” he added, “and they were really, really nice and really interested. Frankly, they were in agreement with us, and we were all scratching our heads about how it is possible that there is not a single accommodation anywhere in the Hudson Yards and Bella Abzug Park area, including the future design, for dogs. Our ultimate hope was to take over an existing portion of Bella Abzug that might be underutilized and use it for this purpose.”

A representative from the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance told W42ST: “Unfortunately, there is no viable space for a dog run in the Bella Abzug Park, even with the final two blocks of the park still to be constructed. They are already designed as a playground and a small open space with a water feature. We have been communicating with the Astro’s dog run constituents and will help as best we can in looking for alternatives within our district.”

The group hasn’t given up hope, however, and hope to secure leads by highlighting the issue publicly. “We’re happy to consider temporary locations, too,” said Mike, noting that should Astro’s be rewritten into the Port Authority’s future plans that they would be willing to find a short-term home. And while the process could be challenging, the recent campaign by Chelsea residents to ratify a new dog run was approved by Community Board 4 and sent on to the NYC Parks Department for further development, illuminating the possibility of a second chance for Astro’s. Manhattan Community Board 4 Chair Jeffrey LeFrancois said: “We always want to ensure that our four-legged friends have a safe place to run, and CB4 has a long history of supporting the Astro’s Dog run. Thankfully, the Port Authority has provided advance notice about the need to relocate the dog run, and hopefully we can find a short term home.” Added Waterfront, Parks and Environment Committee Co-Chair Leslie Boghosian Murphy: “It is unfortunate Astro’s will be unable to use their current space at year’s end. We value this amenity and the credit the park’s dog owners for  providing the neighborhood with a clean, safe space for our pets. We are in discussions with area stake holders to see if we can find a suitable, alternative location to keep our dogs running!”

Astro's Dog Run
The community garden at the front of the plot will also be closed. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Most important, the team said, was to keep Astro’s — a true symbol of the Hell’s Kitchen community — around. A briefing of the park’s history on the group’s website explains that the dog run was named after a German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix named Astro, owned by Hell’s Kitchen local and park founder Graham Haber, who died in 2021 at age 58. “He was a community-oriented, empathetic, and deeply compassionate person, always interested in the lives and ideas of others,” wrote Graham’s widow Anastasia Aukeman Haber. “He brought people closer together. Astro’s and the community garden are a shining example of his spirit.” 

Join the Conversation


  1. This is great Phil/Sara…Thank you!! We will find a space…the idea that there is “NO ROOM” in Bella Abzug Park is a joke…has anyone been to block 4?? There is room for Astro’s, the Aquarium Store and still most of those unused tables and chairs. Astro’s will live on, lit Members and the Community will see to that!!

    1. Petition Erik Bottcher to make this happen in Bella Abzug. Don’t listen to the lies of “it’s not possible”. If he can do it for Chelsea, he can do it for Hell’s Kitchen

    2. Bella Abzug would have been on our side. Unfortunately, we, who actually live here, have no say in anything. All they want is our tax dollars and for us to stay out of their way.

  2. I’d like to see our council member, Erik Bottcher, fight as hard for a replacement for Astro’s Dog Run as he did for the Penn South dog run. Hell’s Kitchen deserves the same attention as the rest of the district

  3. I am one of the 4 gardeners at Astro’s Dog Run and Garden. Losing our little patch of garden space is sad, but we will find a place to dig in again. What really is not OK: no dog run in our area once Astro’s shuts down. The dog population rivals the human population, and Bella Abzug Park is the logical, and practical place to put a dog run.
    Let’s make this happen!

    1. Petition Erik Bottcher to make this happen in Bella Abzug. Don’t listen to the lies of “it’s not possible”. If he can do it for Chelsea, he can do it for Hell’s Kitchen

  4. How ridiculous that there is no dog friendly space in all of the huge development of Hudson Yards and Bella Abzug Park. “No viable space for a dog run” in blocks and blocks of a brand new park? That is simply a lie.

    1. Petition Erik Bottcher to make this happen in Bella Abzug. Don’t listen to the lies of “it’s not possible”. If he can do it for Chelsea, he can do it for Hell’s Kitchen

  5. While we are at it, we need to petition the Hudson River Park to allow dogs to sit on the lawns on a blanket! There is no place in a 10 block radius that we can sit with our dogs on grass. It is definitely a quality of life issue. 95% of dog owners are respectful of the lawns and we should not be held hostage due to an entitled few.

    1. Robbee, I am a senior, life long resident of Chelsea. When I bought a little chair to sit and enjoy a movie at Hudson River Park, the police told me I had to sit on a blanket or I would be ‘arrested.’ Arresting someone almost 80 years old for sitting on a chair because I have disc problems? All the way in the very back, where nobody was sitting behind me?

  6. I have all the confidence in the world that dog owners will continue to let their dogs run free, unleashed, to pee and then some, in the grassy park next to the Intrepid. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

    1. James, I am sorry you are inconvenienced. But our pets are family to many of us, just as children are to many of you. Can’t we figure out a way to share? Just asking.

  7. We tried to get a permanent space for the community cats that, for so many years, were living where Hudson Yards is now. But there was absolutely no interest on the developers’ parts. I’m hoping you can succeed where we did not. What a missed opportunity on their parts not to include the neighborhood’s animals.

    1. The Hudson Yards developers have never cared about the neighborhood, only about making a fast buck. Look at how they left the “required” affordable housing and school for last, and now it has been abandoned, apparently never to happen. Sickening.

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