Study: LowLine Could Boost Value of SPURA Sites

The Low Line’s demonstration project was held in the Essex Street Market this past fall.

Earlier this month we reported that the founders of The LowLine, the park envisioned below Delancey Street, pitched Community Board 3 on the notion of linking their proposal to the Seward Park development project (SPURA).  City officials, who are preparing to release a Request for Proposals for the nine parcels in January, batted down the idea, and CB3 did not officially weigh in on the issue.

When the LowLine’s Dan Barasch briefed the board, he alluded to a feasibility study conducted by HR&A Advisors that showed that the LowLine could provide a lot of economic benefit to the Seward Park project.  Today the Wall Street Journal has details from that study.  A draft of the report’s economic impact summary suggests the subterranean park could “boost land values of SPURA sites by between $10 million and $20 million and create between $5 million and $10 million in sales, hotel and real-estate taxes over 30 years…”

According to the Journal, the project could cost as much as $72 million.  The LowLine is hoping to secure between $7-14 million in tax credits.  But there would be other revenue streams:

With a projected annual operating cost of between $2 million and $4 million for the LowLine, the summary notes the goal of the park would be self-sufficiency, aided by revenue from programming festivals, performances, private events, public art and children’s programming. Commercial space is also planned.

The former trolley station below Delancey Street is controlled by the MTA, which said earlier this year it planned to issue an RFP for the site after the Seward Park land use process was completed (that occurred in September).  But the troubled agency is showing no signs of moving forward with that plan, so the LowLine team has been working to come up with a new strategy.  During his appearance before CB3′s land use committee meeting this month, Barasch said he would begin circulating the feasibility study more widely.  In June, CB3 passed a resolution officially supporting the LowLine.  Now there’s an effort underway to persuade the board and city planners that the park and the SPURA projects can and should go hand-in-hand.