Elected Officials Advocate For Transfer of “Lowline” Site

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard an update about the Lowline, the proposal to build an innovative park and events space below Delancey Street.  Today there’s word of a new effort to move the project through the bureaucratic maze that is city and state government.

LowLine Team Returns to CB3, Addresses Gentrification, Funding Questions

It has been well over a year since the team behind the LowLine, the proposed public green space beneath Delancey Street, went public.  In that time, they have held countless informational sessions and fundraisers, met one-on-one with many groups, staged a high profile demonstration project in the Essex Street Market and generated a huge amount of media coverage.  But in spite of these efforts, co-creators Dan Barasch and James Ramsey know there’s a long road ahead if they are to succeed in transforming an abandoned rail station.  City and state officials in a position to move the project from the “cool idea” to “real-life project” phase have yet to come on board.  Even within the Lower East Side community, where the LowLine has been met with a lot of enthusiasm, Barasch and Ramsey have some work to do. It’s in this spirit, that they’ll be appearing tonight before Community Board 3’s land use committee.

In the past several weeks, they have been circulating a “preliminary vision and planning study,” detailing how the underground facility might be used, how it would be financed and what the impact could potentially be on the surrounding area.  This evening they’ll share some of the study’s fine points with CB3, which voted last June to “officially support” the LowLine project.   It would be an overstatement to say opposition to the Delancey Underground concept is now emerging, but in a community board meeting late last year, there were signs of new skepticism from some land use committee members.  Since that meeting, various activists have hinted that they’re concerned about the potential of the LowLine to be an agent of gentrification. Recently, we sat down with Barasch to talk about that specific issue.

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…”

CB3 Asked to Weigh Low Line With Seward Park Project

The abandoned trolley station under Delancey Street. All photos taken by the Delancey Underground team, May 2012.

Community Board 3’s land use committee met last night to discuss the Seward Park development project.  As it turns out, there wasn’t much to discuss.  A secret task force has now met twice to help guide the city’s creation of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the large mixed-use project adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge.  Members of the task force were required to sign confidentiality agreements, meaning they can’t talk about any issues covered in their deliberations.   The most interesting topic of conversation last night concerned an adjacent project, the proposed park envisioned in an abandoned trolley station below Delancey Street.

The project, known as “The Low Line,” is not part of the Seward Park RFP.  But during the discussion, Low Line co-founder Dan Barasch was invited to update committee members on his organization’s progress.  In a resolution approved last June, the community board expressed its strong support for the project. 

Chin, Mendez Hold Lowline Event Saturday; Silver Offers Enthusiastic Support

Lowline exhibition at the Essex Street Market. Photo by Tim Schreier.

“Imaging the Lowline,” the installation in the Essex Street Market, is taking a break for the Rosh Hashana holiday. But the show from the team proposing a 60,000 square foot park below Delancey Street, will be back in action tomorrow from noon-6 p.m. Also coming up on Saturday, City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez are inviting constituents down to have a look at the installation and to spend a little quality time with your local elected officials.  Chin and Mendez will be at the market (in the building on the south side of Delancey Street/Broome Street entrance) at 1 p.m.

On Sunday, Local Businesses Team Up with the Lowline

As we reported yesterday, “Imagining the Lowline,” an exhibition from the guys behind the proposed park under Delancey Street, opens in the Essex Street Market on Saturday.   You’ll also be able to see the installation on Sunday, but there’s a twist.  The Lowline team has partnered with the Lower East Side BID to showcase several neighborhood businesses. It’s a kind-of teaser for the BID’s “Daylife” street festival coming up on Orchard Street September 30.

The vendors that will be set up in the market building include: Heritage Meat Shop, Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, Ni Japanese Deli, Pushcart Coffee and the LES Girls Club.  The Lowline and the BID will be co-hosting a similar event Sunday, September 23rd, featuring several more local businesses.

The Lowline exhibit and Daylife preview take place in the Essex Street Market building on the south side of Delancey Street.  You can stop by anytime between noon-6 p.m.

The Lowline exhibit is open daily through September 27 (except for next Monday and Tuesday when it will be closed for Rosh Hashanah).


Sneak Peek: “Imagining the Lowline” at Essex Market

Here it is.  We just returned from a press preview of “Imagining the Lowline,” the exhibition coming to the Essex Street Market for two weeks beginning Saturday.  Up until now, all we’ve had are renderings depicting what a park in an abandoned trolley station below Delancey Street might look like.  Now visitors to the public installation will be able to see and touch real trees and grass growing with the aid of natural sunlight being channeled into the darkened back half of the abandoned market building.

The Lowline Gets Real at Essex Street Market

Editor’s note: the following story was originally published in the September edition of The Lo-Down’s print magazine:

For close to 20 years, the Essex Street Market building at the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey streets has been little more than a relic of the Lower East Side’s pushcart past. If the city has its way, the mostly vacant 1940 structure will face a bulldozer in the next few years, as the Seward Park area redevelopment project moves forward. This month, however, the building will come alive again, as the founders of the “Lowine,” the much-buzzed-about proposal to create a park below Delancey Street, stage a large exhibition in the rarely used space.

The big event, “Imagining the Lowline,” is a huge step for creators James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, who officially unveiled their bold idea one year ago. In the past several months, Ramsey and Barasch have gained the support of local elected officials, community organizations and potential financial backers. The exhibition and a series of events surrounding it are intended to answer several critical questions, including how much the project is likely to cost and whether it’s technologically feasible.

Photos: Low Line Exhibition at the Essex Street Market

All photos by Lizzy Zevallos via Low Line Facebook page.

We’ve been talking about “Imagining the Low Line,” the highly anticipated installation from the guys planning to build a park below Delancey Street.  They’ve got about ten days to go before the exhibition opens in the Essex Street Market on September 15.  The team has been posting photos from the installation at the Essex Street Market on the Low Line Facebook page.  It’s our first look at the technology co-founder James Ramsey has been developing to channel sunlight underground.  You can also see a 45 foot model depicting the unused spaces beneath Manhattan.  Click through for a couple more shots. And check out our previous story on the exhibition.

“Imagining the Low Line” Comes to Essex Street Market

Inside Essex Street Market building D. Photos via Low Line Flickr page.

As we have noted in the past, the team behind the “Low Line”  is planning a major exhibition in an abandoned building of the Essex Street Market next month.  One goal, among others, is to demonstrate technology that will transport sunlight into a proposed park under Delancey Street.   Work began this week to transform the market building (located on the south side of Delancey Street) into a mini-version of the park, the full-scale version of which would sprout from a trolley terminal decommissioned in 1948.

CB3 Panel Votes to Support Delancey Underground

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

Last night, Community Board 3’s land use committee voted unanimously (with two members abstaining) to support the Delancey Underground, the high profile plan to bring a park to a 60,000 square foot abandoned trolley terminal.  Project co-founders Dan Barasch and James Ramsey outlined the proposal for CB3 last fall, and received a warm reception, but no vote was taken following the initial presentation.  CB3’s endorsement will become official after the full board votes later this month.

During last night’s meeting, Barasch updated his organization’s progress, noting the completion of a successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign, numerous overtures to Lower East Side organizations and the beginning of a planning study to access the feasibility of the proposal.  In a packet passed out to community board members, there were letters of support from the presidents of the the Seward Park and Hillman Cooperatives.  Barasch said there were plans to reach out to other residential communities in the area, including the Seward Park Extension, the Vladeck Houses and the Baruch Houses.

Delancey Underground: New Photos, CB3 Request For Support, New Fundraising Drive

The abandoned trolley station under Delancey Street. All photos taken by the Delancey Underground team, May 2012.

It’s been awhile since we’ve updated the progress of the Delancey Underground, the grand plan to bring a subterranean park to a 60,000 square foot abandoned trolley station under Delancey Street.  This coming Tuesday, co-creators Dan Barasch and James Ramsey will appear before Community Board 3’s land use panel to officially ask for CB3 support.

Yesterday, the Delancey Underground team sent out an email blast announcing that an “angel donor” had come forward with a challenge. If the organization can raise $75,000 in 75 days, the donor will match it.  As you may recall the Delancey Underground concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign in April, raising about $155,000. According to the email, more funds are necessary because…

…we have a lot of research to do before we can begin transforming the current site into a vibrant green space.  This campaign will help us complete our engineering studies and business plan in time for our September tech demo exhibit — and will help us prove that a Lowline park makes good sense for our neighborhood.

Last week, Barasch and Ramsey revisited the site, posting numerous photos on their Flickr page.  Have a look at some of the images, after the jump.

It’s the Last Day to Support the Delancey Underground on Kickstarter

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

It’s the final day of the Delancey Underground’s Kickstarter campaign.  As just about the whole world knows by now, James Ramsey and Dan Barasch are hoping to build a park in an abandoned trolley station on the Lower East Side. The fundraising drive is meant to pay for a large demonstration of solar technology necessary to make the park a reality and for engineering studies.  The initial goal was met in the first week of the campaign, so the project will definitely be funded (that’s how Kickstarter works). With about 7 hours to go the Delancey Underground has raised about $153,000 from more than 3,200 backers. If you’d like to help, click on this link.  The deadline is 5:46 p.m.


Delancey Underground Show Opens at Mark Miller Gallery Tomorrow

James Ramsey, Dan Barasch stand in front of a giant rendering in the Mark Miller Gallery.

If you’re curious to learn more about the Delancey Underground, that audacious proposal to build a park in an abandoned trolley terminal, you’re in luck. To kick off a month long exhibition, these guys – James Ramsey and Dan Barasch – will be at the Mark Miller Gallery tomorrow to answer all of your questions and to show off some interesting new visuals.

MTA Seeks Proposals For Seven Sites, But Not the “Low Line”

19 East Houston Street. Image via Google Maps.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority and the NYC Economic Development Corp. have issued a “request for proposals” (RFP’s) for seven sites that the “MTA no longer requires for the transit network.”  The properties include 19 East Houston Street in Soho, which is a 6,000 square foot lot available for “purchase and possible redevelopment.”

Not on the list: the Essex Street Trolley Terminal, better known these days as “The Low Line.”   By the end of the year, the MTA is expected to issue an RFP for the 60,000 square foot space under Delancey Street, which is being eyed as a grand subterranean park.  The site is featured on a list of MTA real estate holdings it hopes to sell (that list was made public last fall).  Like many other MTA holdings, the Lower East Side trolley terminal is actually owned by New York City Transit (the MTA possesses a master lease.)