After 50 Year Wait, First Tenants Moving Into New Apartments on SPURA Site This Week

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It’s been 50 years since the city bulldozed most of the buildings in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), displacing thousands of local residents. So when the weekly construction update arrived in our in-box this morning from Delancey Street Associates, we took note of this obscure reference, “Residential tenant move-ins will begin Monday, November 13th” on Site 6, the affordable senior building at 175 Delancey St.

That’s right, after five decades, the first residents are moving into Essex Crossing, the large residential and commercial project on the urban renewal site. No ribbon cutting. No marching bands. It’s all happening “below the radar.”

This past spring, there was a housing lottery for the 99 apartments located at 175 Delancey St. Since that time, city officials, Community Board 3 and local non-profits have been helping former tenants of SPURA apply for the affordable units (they have priority status for 50% of the apartments being built). It hasn’t been easy. We have heard about a number of local residents, who decades after their families were displaced, are struggling to get their hands on documentation proving their status as former SPURA tenants.

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At a recent CB3 meeting, City Council member Margaret Chin referenced the Site 6 move-ins. At Grand Street Settlement in the past couple of weeks, she talked with a senior couple, who won the lottery. “They went to see the apartment, and now they’re moving in on Nov. 15th,” noted Chin. Another set of  locals, uprooted from the parcel long ago, told the Council member that they had won a spot in the lottery. “All of us felt it was a moral obligation” to the families who lived on SPURA, she said, “and hearing that some of them have the opportunity to go back to that site is really great.”

A spokesperson for Delancey Street Associates told us today that leasing is continuing for the next several weeks. The goal is to complete the move-in process by the end of the year. A dedication ceremony is in-the-works for January.

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Meanwhile, work is progressing on the commercial spaces at 175 Delancey St.  Grand Street Settlement is planning a soft opening for its GrandLo Cafe on Jan. 16.  The social enterprise business will have its official debut in February or March. NYU Langone Health is working on opening a 55,000 medical center in the building. And the developers recently added signage on Broome and Clinton streets advertising up to 4,000 square feet of retail space in this location. The developers say the space is, “suitable for restaurants.”

Four buildings are included in the first phase of Essex Crossing. When the project is completed, there will be more than 1,000 new apartments, about half of them available at below-market rate rents.