Location Change For Monday’s Seward Park RFP Info Session

There’s been a change of location for Monday afternoon’s information session regarding the “Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Seward Park Mixed Use Development Project.  Last month, the city released the RFP for the 1.65 million square foot residential and commercial project.  Developers have until May to submit their applications. The info session is designed to address any questions and clarifications applicants might have/need but anyone is welcome to attend.

We’re told the location was changed because of overwhelming interest in Seward Park, the largest city-owned development site south of 96th Street.  The meeting will now take place at the National Museum of the American Indian, 1 Bowling Green, at 2 p.m.  Anyone attending should enter through the museum’s ground floor entrance; there’s a security checkpoint.

Click here to read our previous coverage of the Seward Park project.

Breaking: Seward Park RFP is Released

This morning the NYC Economic Development Corp. released the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the six acre Seward Park Mixed-Use Development site.  The move has been more than four decades in the making; the development parcels were bulldozed in the name of urban renewal back in 1967.  Proposals from developers are due on May 6.  The city expects to select the winning bid or bids by the fall of this year.  The project includes 1000 apartments (half affordable/half market rate) as well as up to 600,000 square feet for commercial uses. Click through to see the executive summary. You can see the full RFP here.

There will be an information session for the RFP on February 11 at 2 p.m.  at the EDC’s offices, 110 William Street.

More to come…

Seward Park RFP Will Be Released Very Soon


Last night, city officials appearing before Community Board 3’s land use committee offered a very brief update on the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project.  After several consultations with a community-oriented task force, the New York Economic Development Corp. is preparing to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the 1.65 million square foot project in the next week or two. They indicated the RFP is “99% complete” and is now undergoing some final edits.

In keeping with previously agreed guidelines, the RFP allows for one-thousand apartments (half affordable, half market rate), around 600,000 square feet of commercial space, a new Essex Street Market and a small park.  Developers will be permitted to submit proposals for a single site, multiple sites or the entire project. Task force members were allowed to review the draft RFP but confidentiality requirements prevent them from discussing any details.

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. 

City Releases Brochure Announcing “Unprecedented Opportunity” to Develop Seward Park Site

The city won’t release the “Request for Proposals” (RFP) for the Seward Park development site until January.  But the NYC Economic Development Corp. is already getting the word out that the “unprecedented development opportunity is Manhattan” is about to be on the table.   In an email blast this morning, the EDC officially announced the project, and detailed the basic land use program, which was approved by the City Council last month.

A community-oriented task force has convened to go over the details of the RFP, which encompasses one-thousand units of housing and a large amount of commercial space on nine parcels adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge.  The meetings were delayed due to Hurricane Sandy, but city officials say the RFP will be released on schedule, shortly after the new year.

Affordable Housing Activist Added to Seward Park Task Force

Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

Last week we reported there was a lot of displeasure about the composition of the new community task force created to help guide the city’s selection of developers for the Seward Park redevelopment project.  In response to complaints lodged after Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li announced the appointees, an additional community representative has been tapped to join the panel. Li made the announcement at last night’s CB3 meeting.

The task force will be working with city planning officials to draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Seward Park sites and they will have a role in selecting developers for the large mixed-use project.  Initially, Li appointed five community board members and two representatives from local “stakeholder” organizations (the LES BID and University Settlement).  Local elected officials also have seats on the panel.  At last week’s land use committee meeting, community activists complained that the task force lacked racial and geographic diversity.

Community Activists Question Makeup of Seward Park Task Force, Criticize Secrecy

Seward Park redevelopment area.

The warm, fuzzy feeling that prevailed last week after the City Council voted to approve the Seward Park redevelopment plan did not last long.  Last night, Community Board 3’s chairperson, Gigi Li, announced the appointees of a new task force created to work with the city to evaluate proposals from developers.  The makeup of the panel did not go over well with several members of CB3’s land use committee, which spent the past three years hammering out a compromise plan for the seven-acre site near the Williamsburg Bridge.

Task force members will include Chairperson Li, former CB3 Chair Dominic Berg, CB3 Land Use Committee Co-chairs David McWater and Linda Jones (sharing a seat), Lisa Kaplan (a CB3 member and Council member Rosie Mendez’s former chief of staff), CB3 member Karen Blatt, LES BID Executive Director Bob Zuckerman and University Settlement Executive Director Michael Zisser.  Matt Viggiano (Council member Margaret Chin’s land use director),  Vanessa Diaz (Council member Mendez’s current chief of staff) and a representative of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s staff will also have seats on the task force.

Mayor Reacts to City Council Passage of Seward Park Plan

Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

Last night we posted a full wrap-up from City Hall after the City Council approved the sweeping Seward Park land use application.  There’s more reaction today to the historic vote, which ended four decades of acrimony and inaction surrounding the large development site.  In a press release, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said:

Seward Park has long had the potential to bring new jobs, new housing and new retail options to one of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods… Today we know that that potential will be realized. After nearly half a century of sitting dormant, this piece of real estate – some of the most valuable underdeveloped land anywhere – will finally be transformed. Thanks to an historic and unprecedented community planning process, the plan that is moving directly reflects the input of residents, community members and other stakeholders.

More on Today’s City Council Approval of the SPURA Plan

A view of the Seward Park parcels, looking south from Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.

Believe it or not, the Seward Park redevelopment plan (SPURA) has finally made it through the city’s arduous land use approval process.  We just returned from City Hall, where the New York City Council voted 48-0 in favor of the proposal to remake the 1.65 million square foot site 45 years after thousands of homes and businesses on the parcels were bulldozed in the name of urban renewal.

There are many hurdles still to be cleared.  But just about any superlative (historic, monumental, unprecedented) applies to the accomplishment that seemed so unlikely just two years ago.  Work has already begun to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) for the project, which calls for one-thousand apartments and a large amount of commercial space on nine plots of land near the Williasmburg Bridge.

As SPURA Approval Nears, Activists Angle For Spots on New Task Force

The Seward Park site, looking south on Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa/nythroughthelens.com.

A week from tomorrow, the full City Council is expected to vote on the sweeping land use application for the Seward Park redevelopment project (SPURA).  The land use committee signed off on the proposal last week, after City Council member Margaret Chin won several concessions from the city regarding a new public school, off-site affordable housing and other issues.  But even before final approval, some activists are turning their attention to the next steps, as the plan for one-thousand apartments and commercial spaces on nine parcels near the Williamsburg Bridge moves forward.

Following City Council and mayoral rubber-stamping, the NYC Economic Development Corp. is expected to move quickly to draft a Request for Proposals (RFP).  They hope to release it sometime in January.  Earlier this year,  Community Board 3 proposed the formation of a new task force to help create the RFP and to evaluate proposals from developers.  The city agreed to work with the new group. The task force will consist of representatives from local elected officials’ offices (Council members Chin and Rosie Mendez, plus Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer), five CB3 members and two members from “local stakeholder groups.”

More Details: The Modified Seward Park Plan

The Seward Park redevelopment parcels.

Some quick context on the modifications announced today before the City Council’s land use committee voted on the Seward Park plan.

Additional Housing: Council member Margaret Chin persuaded the city to add 100 apartments on the Seward park parcels, meaning they’ll now build 1000 units instead of 900.  Fifty will be affordable, 50 will be market rate, in keeping with the overall housing plan. During months of negotiations, affordable housing activists on CB3’s land use committee repeatedly asked city officials to get that number to at least 1000, but they declined.   In a compromise deal, the panel had agreed that the overall project should contain 60% housing and 40% commercial/community spaces.  Among other arguments, city planning officials contended that a larger number of apartments could upset the delicate balance.  Separately, there’s a new agreement to build all-affordable housing on a  city-owned parcel at 21 Spring Street (in Community Board 2).  Council member Chin tells us it’s not yet known how many units will be created at this location.

A New School: Another modification allows for a school to be built on a 15,000 square foot portion of site 5.  There’s a big caveat here.  The Education Department insists there’s no need for another school on the Lower East Side and, they say, there’s no money to build one anyway.  So there’s a lot of work to be done on the issue by community activists and elected officials if a school is actually going to become a reality.

Council Member Chin’s Statement on Seward Park Vote, City Concessions

Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

We don’t normally post press releases verbatim but, given the high interest in this story, here’s the detailed statement from Council member Margaret Chin’s office concerning today’s committee vote in support of the Seward Park Plan. We’ll have additional reporting later today.

Today, the City Council Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions and the Committee on Land Use vote unanimously to approve the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area mixed-use development application. The modified application will now move to City Planning, prior to a vote before the entire Council, tentatively scheduled for October 11.
“Today’s vote was a landmark moment for the Lower East Side community,” Council Member Margaret Chin said. “The modified SPURA proposal adds 50 more affordable units to the Seward Park development project, and sets aside space for the potential development of a public school. Outside of SPURA, the City has committed to building affordable housing at 21 Spring Street, a city-owned property that has been underutilized for far too long. This affordable housing will go a long way to meet the needs of community that has some of the worst overcrowding in the City.”

Two City Council Panels Vote on Seward Park Development Plan Today

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

The land use approval process for the Seward Park redevelopment site is rapidly nearing completion. Today two City Council committees will vote on the proposal for 900 apartments, commercial spaces and community facilities on nine parcels near the Williamsburg Bridge.  The final step will likely take place October 11, when the full Council is expected to vote on the ULURP application.

At 11:30 this morning, the subcommittee on planning, dispositions and concessions will convene to take up “SPURA,” as the former urban renewal area has been known for the past four decades.  Then at noon, the land use committee will take its turn.  There will be no public testimony. A public hearing was held September 19.

Final Hearing On Seward Park Development Proposal Takes Place Next Week

Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

If you want your voice to be heard before the City Council votes on the land use application that will shape the redevelopment of the Seward Park development site, next week’s your last chance.  Wednesday afternoon at 1 o’clock, the Council’s planning subcommittee will hold a public hearing on the proposal.  The Council’s vote is the last step before mayoral approval.

The plan calls for 900 apartments (50% of them affordable), a large amount of commercial space and a new Essex Street Market on a 1.65 million square foot parcel adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge.  The Seward park site had been the subject of bitter community battles for four decades before Community Board 3 approved the city’s land use (ULURP) document earlier this year.

City Planning Commission Approves SPURA Plan

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

More now on the City Planning Commission’s historic vote this morning in favor of the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Plan.  The decision means there’s only one more major step remaining before the city begins soliciting proposals from private developers for the 1.6 million square foot residential/commercial project at the foot of the Williamsburg bridge.  Sometime this fall, probably, late September or early October, the City Council will be called on to approve the land use plan.

Today’s decison was unanimous.  The commissioners actually voted on 19 separate land use “actions” necessary to move forward with the proposal, which would create 900 apartments (half of them permanently affordable), hundreds-of-thousands of feet of commercial space, community facilities, a small park and a new Essex Street Market.