The city’s Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is giving groups interested in proposing ideas for the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal space a little bit more time. After hearing criticism about its handling of a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) in the site from members of Community Board 3, the EDC today extended the deadline from Dec. 23 to Feb. 1.
Last week, Community Board 3’s land use committee approved a resolution asking the city to rescind the RFEI and give the community board an opportunity to help shape a new document. While CB3 was advised that the Request for Expressions of Interest would be going out, board members wanted to see more collaboration from the city. During the past several years, a local group has been lobbying the MTA for access to the 60,000 space for the Lowline underground park. The dormant trolley terminal is leased by the MTA but owned by New York City.
In a letter to EDC President Maria Torres-Springer, City Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer expressed support for the community board’s position. Extending the deadline, they wrote, would allow the city to “solicit a variety of proposals and garner increased community feedback.” They also requested added site visits for groups interested in submitting proposals, as well as “clear opportunities for increased communication with Community Board 3 and elected officials on ways to engage with future progress on the site.”
In a phone interview this afternoon, CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li said the board would like to see a clear timeline and plan for engaging the community — not only before the proposals are due but also after the deadline. She said CB3 wants to be consulted as the city evaluates various ideas for the site.
Council member Chin is a longtime supporter of the Lowline project. CB3 approved a resolution in support of the Lowline back in 2012. That being said, several members of the land use committee expressed reservations about the project last week. The board’s most recent resolution, however, was solely focused on the city’s process, rather than any concerns about the Lowline’s plan for the former trolley terminal.