Residents, Assemblymember Niou Criticize NYCHA’s Lower East Side Development Plans

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There was a protest yesterday at the La Guardia Houses by residents and local activists opposed to NYCHA’s plan to put up a mixed-income tower on Madison Street. At the same time, State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou sent a letter to NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye voicing strong displeasure with the development proposal.

Earlier this month, the housing authority published a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this site, a parking lot next to the Little Flower Playground.  The successful applicant is expected to sign a 99-year-lease and be required to build a 50% market rate /50% affordable project, including 450 apartments. The project is part of NYCHA’s NextGen Neighborhoods program, which aims “to build mixed‐income housing on open NYCHA land to generate badly needed revenue for repairs and create more affordable housing.”

Yesterday’s event involved resident leaders, including Felicia Cruickshank, tenant association president at the La Guardia Houses. It was organized with the assistance of the local non-profit, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES).

In her letter, Niou said she has become “increasingly convinced” that the plan at the La Guardia Houses will have “unintended consequences,” in the community. “NYCHA must be clear,” explained the local representative, “that this is a proposal to privatize public land for the duration of the duration of the 99 year lease.” Niou said, “I am against privatizing public land.”

If NYCHA goes ahead with the project, Niou is calling for 100% affordable housing on the site. She also wants NYCHA to take a serious look at building a grocery store to replace the Cherry Street Pathmark that closed in 2012. “This is an opportunity to fulfill a need in our community,” wrote Niou, “while generating additional revenue for NYCHA, and while your agency has cited some zoning limitations preventing a grocery store from being built in that space, I believe that suggestion warrants further discussion.”

Proposals for the Lower east Side site are due June 1.

La Guardia Houses Letter – AM Yuh-LIne Niou by The Lo-Down on Scribd