New York Times: Silver, Rapfogel “Kept a Lower East Side Lot Vacant For 47 Years”

The Seward Park site, looking south on Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa/nythroughthelens.com.

The Seward Park site, looking south on Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa/nythroughthelens.com.

The Times just posted  a lengthy article examining the roles of Sheldon Silver and former Met Council head William Rapfogel in stopping redevelopment of the Seward Park urban renewal site for decades. 

An excerpt:

Mr. Silver has long characterized his role in plans for the site, known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or Spura, as limited to insisting that all groups have a voice in the outcome, not promoting a specific plan or developer. “The speaker’s position was always that any development at Spura had to be achieved by consensus among all of the diverse communities that make up the Lower East Side,” his spokesman, Michael Whyland, said in a recent written statement. But an extensive review of the archives of four mayors and more than two dozen interviews show Mr. Silver and Mr. Rapfogel diligently working behind the scenes to promote specific plans and favored developers. Mr. Rapfogel made clear that the goal was to maintain the area’s Jewish identity, seemingly at the expense of other communities.

You can read the complete story here.

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  • Don Meade

    Great piece. Compared to Sheldon Silver, his pal Willie Rapfogel was a small-time crook. Buettner’s article concisely summarizes the history of Silver’s political deals and cozy relationships with developers. Was it really “good for the Jews” to have kept the SPURA site a paradise for rats for nearly half a century?