City Releases SPURA Document; Requests Drawings for New Essex Street Market

In our coverage of the Seward Park redevelopment process last week, we mentioned that some community activists were less than thrilled that the city hired an architectural firm without consulting them.  The firm, Beyer Binder Belle, began working with CB3 this month.  CB3 member Harvey Epstein asked for a copy of the RFP (request for proposals) that led to the hiring of the company.

We’ve now had a look at the five page document, which was made public late last week. There aren’t a lot of big surprises, but the RFP does offer a fairly comprehensive explanation of how the city is approaching the SPURA planning process.

A lot of community activists are sure to seize on a section of the RFP concerning the Essex Street Market. The Economic Development Corp., the lead city agency on the project, wanted the successful applicant to:

Provide more specific site planning and 1-2 simple renderings for the layout of a new Essex Street Market, likely to be located on Essex Street between Delancey Street and Broome Street.

Community Board 3’s guidelines, approved last month, call on the city to leave the market in its current location, north of Delancey Street. The EDC’s planning consultant, John Shapiro, argued that the current market building was inadequate and he recommended building a new, more expansive public market in a “superior location.”

The RFP indicates the firm would be hired for approximately 9 months to work with the city and the community board on preliminary design issues. Responsibilities were to include: evaluating current zoning restrictions, analyzing traffic flow/parking issues and coordinating three public presentations. The city was willing to pay up to $75,000.

You can see the full text of the RFP after the jump.

City Hires Architectural Firm for SPURA Planning

We’ve just learned that the NYC Economic Development Corp. has hired an architectural firm to work with the community on the first phase of the Seward Park redevelopment project.  Beyer Binder Belle, a prestigious New York-based company, will be advising the city and Community Board 3 on preliminary urban design issues for the 10 SPURA parcels.

Last month, CB3 ended a 43-year-old stalemate, agreeing to a set of guidelines for the Seward Park site. This month, they’ll get to work on more specific plans for the mixed-use, mixed-income project at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.  Beyer Blinder Belle, established in 1968, developed a specialty in historic preservation.

The firm has handled high profile restoration projects, including the Apollo Theater, Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building. But, more relevant to the task at hand, it has a planning division which has been involved in many large-scale redevelopment projects.  Among them: the Coney Island, Governors Island and DUMBO strategic planning efforts. On its web site, Beyer Blinder Belle notes: