Tonight: Town Hall Meeting on Seward Park Plan

Seward Park redevelopment area.

Here’s a reminder: Wednesday night is one of your last chances to speak out about the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development plan before a crucial Community Board 3 vote next month.   In the past few weeks, the city officially unveiled the land use application for the monumental residential and retail project that would reshape the Lower East Side.

There will be a town hall meeting Wednesday at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street.  The discussion will cover the land use document, which details a master plan for nine parcels adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge.  Comments and questions will also be taken concerning a separate document guiding a sweeping environmental review of the Seward Park site.

If you would like to submit a question or express an opinion, send an email to SPURA@cb3manhattan.org.   The submission deadline is the end of the day tomorrow. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. There will be a separate session from 5-6 p.m. in which members of the public may ask city officials technical questions about the land use documents.

On May 22, CB3 will vote on the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) application. If it approves, the Manhattan Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council will have chances to weigh in before the process concludes next fall. If the plan is approved, the city is expected to put out a request for proposals from developers early next year.

For a review of the plan, take a look at our previous coverage.

 

Seward Park Co-op Launches Green Car Program

An all-electric Nissan LEAF joins the fleet at Seward Park Co-op's Connect by Hertz program.

On Friday at noon, Seward Park Cooperative will officially unveil its new electric car program, which includes the recent arrival of a Nissan LEAF all-electric car, and the installation of electric vehicle charging stations back in March.

The event takes place at 413 Grand Street at the co-op’s parking area along Clinton Street. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Sen. Daniel Squadron and members of Community Board 3 are expected to be on hand to celebrate, as well as officials from ChargePoint America, which provides the infrastructure for the charging systems. The new car will join the fleet of Connect By Hertz, a program that houses on-demand short-term rental vehicles at various locations, including Seward Park’s garage.

CB3′s Full Board Approves SPURA Guidelines

The Seward Park sites south of Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.

The Seward Park sites south of Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.

The emotions ran the gamut last night inside the auditorium of P.S. 20 on Essex Street. Elation, anger, relief, regret and pride were all palpable as Community Board 3 held an historic vote on the future of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. At the end of the evening, CB3 members accomplished what seemed impossible to many not so long ago: unanimous approval of a set of planning guidelines (you can read the full document here) for a 7-acre development site the neighborhood has been fighting over for 43 years.

The decision, backed by all of the neighborhood’s elected officials, dramatically increases the odds that CB3’s vision of a mixed use (residential and commercial) project, including 50% affordable and 50% market rate housing, will one day become a reality.

CB3’s Full Board Unanimously Approves SPURA Guidelines; Stringer Endorses Plan

This evening Community Board 3 voted unanimously to endorse a set of planning guidelines for the redevelopment of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, effectively putting an end to the Lower East Side’s longest and most bitter grudge match.

It was a dramatic evening, full of heartfelt speeches from both supporters and opponents of the proposal to build low, middle and market rate housing (and retail) on the 7 acre site. We’ll have a complete report in the morning. Here’s reaction tonight from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:

Tonight, Community Board 3 unanimously supported guidelines for the development of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). Now the Lower East Side community, for the first time, has a chance to endorse a SPURA plan with a foundation of community consensus. Under the leadership of Chair Dominic Pisciotta and Committee Chair David McWater, the members of the Board have achieved something remarkable – they have put aside decades of disagreements and created a roadmap for how SPURA development can meet community needs.  This process represents the best in community planning, and I look forward to working with local stakeholders as the process continues.

Chin Releases Statement on SPURA

Just in from City Councilmember Margaret Chin:

I applaud the SPURA Development Task Force for reaching a consensus on the proposed guidelines for the development of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). After 43 years, I am pleased to say that the guidelines that will shape the future development of the area were derived, in large part, from the surrounding community. Community Board 3 members and residents spent countless hours envisioning what type of development would be the most beneficial for such a diverse community.  This process not only brought the community together but laid the groundwork for the near unanimous vote achieved yesterday. I want to thank the Chair of Community Board 3, Dominic Pisciotta, and CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, and in particular Task Force Chair David McWater.

SPURA in the News

Photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.

Here’s a look at how mainstream news organizations and citywide blogs are reporting last night’s vote to approve the Seward Park redevelopment guidelines. The New York Times:

After sitting fallow for 43 years as the Lower East Side exploded in popularity around it, a desolate stretch of parking lots along Delancey Street is closer than ever to being transformed into housing and shops, potentially marking the end of a long and bitter stalemate over the future of the sites. On Monday night, at a meeting sprinkled with cheers, jeers and catcalls, a Community Board 3 task force voted nearly unanimously in favor of guidelines to develop the five parcels, collectively known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.

CB3 Committee Makes History, Votes Yes on SPURA

SPURA

It was the deal most everyone thought could not get done. Four decades after hundreds of homes and businesses were bulldozed in the name of urban renewal, Community Board 3 took an historic step last night towards finally rebuilding on five blighted parcels known collectively as SPURA. CB3’s land use and housing committee voted 19-1, with one member abstaining, in favor of planning guidelines (you can read the full document here) calling for a mixed-use, mixed income community at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Immediately after the vote, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver released a statement backing the proposal for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. “The final guidelines that were approved by the committee tonight strike an appropriate balance between the needs and concerns of all stakeholders and will result in a development that will ensure our neighborhood continues to thrive,” he said.  State Senator Daniel Squadron also put out a statement last night, saying “the community board vote is a huge win for the community.  It is appropriate that after 43 years, a community-driven process has moved SPURA forward.”

Breaking: Community Board 3 Approves SPURA Guidelines; Sheldon Silver Backs Proposal

After 43 years of bitter battles over the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, Community Board 3’s land use committee approved a set of planning guidelines tonight for the 7-acre parcel next to the Williamsburg Bridge. Only one member of the committee, Damaris Reyes of GOLES, voted against the proposal.  This evening, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver gave a big boost to the plan, endorsing CB3’s guidelines:

“I want to commend the leadership and members of the Community Board 3 Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing Committee for their effort to achieve, at long last, a true consensus about the future of Seward Park. From the outset, this process was conducted openly, transparently and fairly and went to great lengths to give voice to the broad range of views that make up our extraordinarily diverse community.

Real Estate Expert Jonathan Miller on SPURA

SPURA surface parking lots line Suffolk Street from Broome to Delancey.

Over the last several months, as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area planning process chugged forward, we’ve sat through countless community board meetings, interviewed dozens of local residents and decision-makers and published op-eds from various players invested in the proposed residential and retail project. As the guidelines face a vote this evening, we’d like to offer some observations from an expert, NYC real estate analyst Jonathan Miller.

Miller, the president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm, is widely respected across the industry for his comprehensive data collection and reporting and his market insights.

Follow-up: Debating the Fate of the Essex Street Market

Our obsessive coverage of the Seward Park redevelopment talks continues today with a closer look at the future of the Essex Street Market. As we reported last month, quite a few Lower East Side residents objected to language in a early draft of Community Board 3’s guidelines, stating: “The Essex Street Market should be relocated to a superior site on a major street to accommodate a larger market with more goods and services.”  In response to community-wide feedback, the guidelines have now been changed to say (proposed additions are in blue):

If the existing Essex Street Market is to be relocated, it should remain public and be moved to a superior site on a major street to accommodate a larger market with more goods and services. The existing Essex Street Market should not be closed or demolished before the new, larger market is open. Every effort should be made to retain the then current tenants of the Essex Street Market during the change in location and facility. Such efforts should include providing special consideration as to rents (e.g., rent increases should be comparable to existing contracts and commensurate with what would be expected in a public market), assisting tenants with moving and relocation costs (e.g., through the creation of a fund or by way of a requirement in the RFP), and assuring that the new market space is move-in ready before tenants are relocated.

Op/Ed: Support CB3’s SPURA Planning Guidelines

The following opinion piece was written by Brett Leitner, founder of SHARE, a neighborhood organization advocating for the redevelopment of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area:

Now is the Time for Progress on SPURA!

The saga of SPURA has come to a climax with Community Board 3 voting this Monday night on guidelines for a mixed-use development that would replace dilapidated parking lots with multi-income housing, retail properties, green spaces, cultural/educational institutions, and more. The future of SPURA impacts everyone on the Lower East Side. As a Grand Street resident and founder of SHARE (Sustainable Housing And Retail Expansion), I believe the guidelines will prove most beneficial to our neighborhood and therefore warrants the community’s support.

Op/Ed: Making a Case for Affordable Housing on SPURA

Earlier this year, GOLES and other housing advocates held a rally on SPURA property.

Editor’s note: The following opinion piece was written by Joel Feingold, a community organizer with GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side). It was posted on the Villager web site a short time ago. Feingold sent the article to The Lo-Down, as well:

On Monday, a Community Board 3 committee may vote on guidelines for the redevelopment of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area [SPURA] – the long-derelict blocks on Delancey, Broome, and Grand at the lip of the Williamsburg Bridge.  In shaping the final language of these guidelines, this committee can choose to close the chapter on a forty-three year aberration in the Lower East Side’s history: the notion that a racially integrated working-class district is harmful to society in general and property values in particular.  

Monday’s Big SPURA Vote

Photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.

Monday night, 22 community activists will file into the Henry Street Settlement’s gym, poised to make a big decision. After two-and-a-half years of deliberations, Community Board 3’s land use committee is finally scheduled to vote on planning guidelines for the 7-acre Seward Park redevelopment site.

The significance of the task at hand is lost on no one. A “yes” vote would represent a major step forward in ending a bitter stalemate that has divided the neighborhood for 43 years.  Even if the panel backs the proposal, the neighborhood’s political leaders give their blessing and city agencies sign off on the guidelines, there are many more hurdles to clear before the first shovel is in the ground on Delancey Street.  But since the community has never agreed on a basic framework for redevelopment, the importance of this initial step cannnot be overlooked.

Revised SPURA Guidelines Released by CB3

Photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.

Next Monday, Community Board 3’s land use committee will meet to vote on proposed guidelines for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.  Last night, CB3 released a revised draft, incorporating some feedback received from committee and community members.

According to an email message from CB3 Chair Dominic Pisciotta, additional remarks have been “compiled into a separate document that has been made available to committee members for consideration and discussion… It will also be viewable to the public at (next Monday’s meeting).”

The guidelines are available for review on the community board’s web site. There aren’t a lot of major changes from the previous drafts, but every word is expected to come under scrutiny between now and Monday’s meeting. We’ve been talking with a number of committee members in the few days to find out whether they’re inclined to support the guidelines. More on that later today.

GOLES Calls for 70% Affordable Housing on SPURA

Photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.

A week from Monday, Community Board 3’s SPURA task force is scheduled to vote on a set of planning guidelines for the Seward Park development site.  Late last night, a key player in CB3’s deliberations, GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side), sent an email blast to its supporters, urging them to attend the January 24th meeting and, for the first time, laying out publicly a position on the CB3 proposal:

NO JANUARY VOTE UNLESS IT’S FOR MORE LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

Last month the people of the Lower East Side beat back the City’s proposal to give up to 60% of our land to those who can pay $6000 a month for rent. In the spirit of justice and reconciliation GOLES members propose 70% housing for low, moderate and middle income families. Tell the Community Board and the City that the real Lower East Side – that means our families, the working class backbone of this great neighborhood – won’t relent until the plan is right.