CB3 Approves Height, Design Guidelines for SPURA

The future of the Essex Street Market has been grabbing all of the attention lately, but there is other news this week concerning the Seward park redevelopment process.  Tuesday night, Community Board 3 approved “Urban Design Principles” for the parcels south of Delancey Street. These principles will help guide a sweeping environmental assessment set to begin later this year.Below can see the full resolution passed by CB3. Here are some highlights:

  • The guidelines assert that the buildings on sites 1, 3 and 6 should not exceed 14 stories; that the site 2 building should not exceed 24 stories and that only one other 24 story building should be part of the plan (on either site 4 or 5).
  • They call for a small public park, at least 10,000 sq/ft, on SPURA.
  • In a nod to improving pedestrian safety, the plan advocates the construction of a pedestrian overpass over Delancey Street, at Essex.
  • And without saying so specifically, the guidelines seek to discourage Walmart and other chain stores from the project. Here’s the language CB3 approved:

“…many chain stores achieve lower prices by paying inadequate wages to their employees or by failing to provide adequate benefits to their employees; and further… the lower prices thus achieved may force out local small businesses the Guidelines encourage; so… stores exceeding 15,000 sf (square feet) are required to hire locally, pay a living wage, and provide appropriate benefits.”

CB3’s land use committee will begin talking more specifically about the focus of the environmental review at next month’s meeting. They’ll also have discussions about the SPURA parcels north of Delancey, including the Essex Street Market. The meeting will be held July 27th, at 6:30 p.m., at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street. The document approved this week is meant to complement a more general set of guidelines the community board passed back in January. While city officials have been supportive of the overall plan, they have not weighed in so far, point-by-point, on CB3’s vision.

COMMUNITY BOARD 3 – SPURA URBAN DESIGN PRINCIPLES – SITES 1-6

VOTE 1 WHEREAS, the Community Board 3 Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee is considering guidelines for the Seward Park Redevelopment Project Environmental Impact Study (EIS); so… THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the committee supports the following Urban Design Principles for Sites 1-6 (those South of Delancey Street): 1.    Height of all buildings. The buildings should be contextual in design, taking into account the unique crossroads of the two different urban design contexts presented by the area. As such, Sites 1, 3 and 6 should not exceed fourteen stories. Site 2 should not exceed 24 stories. Either Site 4 or 5 can be up to 24 stories, with the other not to exceed 14 stories. 2.    School. If a school is developed (as preferred), it should be on Site 5, with the entrance on a side street and not Grand Street. 3.    Commercial development. If commercial development is needed beyond the ground level and second floor (e.g., to comply with the guidelines), the extra commercial development should be placed on either Site 2 or Site 4, with a final determination following the EIS’s study of the comparative impacts of the two alternative sites. 4.    Public open space. Public open space of not less than 10,000 square feet should be provided on the north side of Site 5 or the south side of Sites 2, 3, or 4. 5.    Pedestrian safety. A pedestrian overpass should be built over Delancey Street, between Site 2 and Site 9. 6.    Parking. All future parking lots on any of the sites should be underground. 7.    Street grid. The four streets in the grid should remain and be utilized. 8.    Street life. The site area’s design should be done so as to maximize street life. 9.    Mixed-income quality. Assure that all of the buildings (with no exceptions) are mixed- income, so as to avoid the problem of uneven distribution of amenities, maintenance, and more; with the exception of senior housing that depends on federal funding that does not allow mixed-income.   VOTE 2: WHEREAS, the SPURA Guidelines approved by the Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing Committee and unanimously adopted by Community Board 3 in January 2011 specify that “with the exception of a possible supermarket, no single retail tenant should exceed 30,000 square feet (sf) in size” and that “‘mid-box’ retail is defined as stores equal to 10,000 to 30,000 sf”; and… WHEREAS, many chain stores achieve lower prices by paying inadequate wages to their employees or by failing to provide adequate benefits to their employees; and further… WHEREAS, the lower prices thus achieved may force out local small businesses the Guidelines encourage; so… THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED stores exceeding 15,000 sf (square feet) are required to give priority in hiring to CB3 residents, work with local workforce development/hiring network organizations such as the Lower East Side Employment Network to find and train qualified candidates, provide a living wage (as is expected to be determined by City Council legislation) with appropriate health, leave, and savings benefits for both full-time and part-time employees. Priority hiring commitments will be created and incorporated into the RFPs for developers as well as an agreed upon amount for the developer to contribute to outreach for local hiring. In addition, the RFPs will provide that all leases to commercial tenants will include the local hiring and wage commitments. While not included in an RFP or ULURP, but will be codified in a Points of Agreement with the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, guidelines for hiring by mid or big-box companies are to 1) use a “first source” hiring method whereby the CB’s local hiring network receives job vacancy postings by the company for 2-3 weeks before general release to job market and 2) companies will reach for a goal of hiring 75% of their staff locally after three years of a store’s start-up. An MOU with the developer and CB must be signed memorializing both the local hiring agreements for permanent and construction jobs; and… THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Community Board 3 strongly urges that union labor be used in the construction of the SPURA developments. The CB will negotiate with union groups to get an agreement to hire from local union members and work with the developers’ General Contractors to hire these members.