Delancey Underground Raises $60,000 in One Week

One week ago, the founders of The Delancey Underground launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of their dream of building a park in an abandoned trolley station below the Lower East Side.  So far it’s been remarkably successful.  With more than a month to go, $60,000 of the $100,000 needed to stage a large-scale demo in the Essex Street Market has already been raised.

A couple of days ago Delancey Underground co-creator Dan Barasch acknowledged there have been some sizable donations from big backers. But he added that lots of small contributions (many just $1) have rolled in.  There were 900 Kickstarter supporters as of midday today.

Delancey Underground Plans Kickstarter Campaign; Tenement Museum Event Scheduled February 16

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

The Delancey Underground, that intriguing proposal to build a park in an abandoned trolley station, hasn’t exactly kept a low profile since its unveiling last fall. But in the coming weeks you’re going to be hearing a lot more from co-founders Dan Barasch and James Ramsey about their drive to build public support and to raise money for the ambitious project.

As Curbed reported yesterday, they’ll soon launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund a large-scale demonstration of the “sunlight irrigation system” Ramsey is designing to transmit natural light into the subterranean space.

Yesterday we checked in with Barasch, who told us he hopes the fundraising effort will have a true grass roots spirit. The Delancey Underground team has placed a high priority on community engagement and is very focused on winning the support of all kinds of neighborhood organizations as well as individuals from all walks of life. You can see the growing list of supporters on their web site. Among the high profile backers: Morris Vogel, president of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Delancey Underground Visionaries Seeking Donations

The team behind the "Low Line" idea is looking for funding to turn this subterranean space into a park. Photo by Danny Fuchs

In the wake of a storm of media coverage over the last month or so, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey are asking for funds to push forward on developing Delancey Underground, their idea to turn an abandoned underground trolley station into “the world’s first subterranean green space in NYC.”

In an appeal sent to supporters yesterday, the pair said: “Help us make sure that this incredible underground space is transformed into a brilliant community park–one that reflects the innovative, creative spirit of the Lower East Side.”

Tour the Abandoned Trolley Station Below Delancey

If there was any doubt that the MTA is intent on reactivating the abandoned trolley terminal below Delancey Street, this video will put an end to that. Posted on YouTube about a week ago and by 2nd Ave. Sagas yesterday, the video is basically an advertisement for the 60,000 square foot subterranean “development opportunity.”

In September, James Ramsey and Daniel Barasch went public with their proposal to turn the old terminal into a dramatic underground park. Their contact at the MTA, Peter Hine, was obviously more than a little intrigued by the idea. Ramsey and Barasch were always well aware they would likely be competing against other potential developers when the MTA gets around to issuing a “Request for Proposals.” In the New York Times last week, Hine said he’d love to see “500 ideas.”

Listen carefully to Hine, as he walks through the trolly station. There’s no doubt the cash-strapped MTA’s main priority is extracting as much money as possible from the unused space. He even mentions creating a night club in part of the terminal. Even at this very preliminary stage, it’s clear the transit agency and the community board might not necessarily see eye to eye on how the space should be developed.

Ramsey and Barasch envision some revenue producing elements as part of their “Delancey Underground” project (possibly retail). But their idea primarily centers around reclaiming the abandoned space for public use.


MTA Looking at Delancey Underground Idea “Very Seriously”

Architectural rendering courtesy: RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

Two months ago, James Ramsey and Dan Barasch went public with their bold proposal to transform an abandoned train station below Delancey Street into a beautiful subterranean park.  There was a blizzard of media coverage back then — including our own in-depth interview with the creative team. Now the New York Times has gotten around to the story.

Morning Reads: Tammany Hall Melee, Dagny & Barstow, The Low Line, Bike Lanes, No Bomb

  • The five defendants in this summer’s Tammany Hall melee are due in court today; their lawyer is talking civil suits. (DNAInfo)
  • Dagny & Barstow, the boutique slated to open at 264 Bowery by now, has opened temporarily in a pop-up shop in the Meatpacking District instead. Why? It’s quite a story. (Racked)
  • What’s really living in the underground space that may become The Low Line? Mole people. (NY Observer)
  • Brian Rose, a Cooper Union graduate who made the Lower East Side his muse in the early 1980s and again in the early 2000s, is trying to publish a book of his work, and needs help. (Kickstarter)
  • Pay no attention to the Twitter panic: there was no bomb at the corner of Allen and Delancey last night. The empty suitcase there turned out to be, well, an empty suitcase. (VV: Runnin’ Scared)
  • Borough President Scott Stringer released a detailed report on stalled construction sites yesterday, and unsurprisingly, the Lower East Side has a lot: 19. (EVGrieve, Gothamist)
  • The city council’s transportation committee took aim at bike lane regs yesterday, and cycling advocates fear more red tape. (Streetsblog)

Delancey Underground Team Wows Community Board 3

Architectural rendering via RAAD Studio/James Ramsey.

“The Low Line,” a bold proposal to create a spectacular park under Delancey Street, has been a media obsession since last weekend. Last night, the team behind the Delancey Underground (the project’s official name) made their pitch to Community Board 3.  The reaction was overwhelmingly positive.

James Ramsey and Daniel Barasch came to CB3’s land use committee with a brief Power Point Presentation and slick handouts for everyone in attendance.  In introducing the pair, David McWater, the committee chairman, noted that the Lower East Side has a long history of “innovative thinking” and of incubating “off-the-wall ideas that later become widely accepted.”  While the board is not yet being asked to vote in support of the proposal, McWater told committee members, “I thought this is something you’d like to see.”

The Low-Line: Envisioning a Dramatic Park Under Delancey Street

Photo by Danny Fuchs.

The West Side has the High Line. Could the Lower East Side one day boast a dramatic new urban oasis of its own?  In next week’s edition of New York Magazine (now online), James Ramsey (an architect) and Daniel Barasch (a think tank executive) go public with “The Low-Line.”

You’re looking at an enormous abandoned train terminal under Delancey Street that hasn’t been used since the old Brooklyn trolley was shut down decades ago. Using new technology, Ramsey and Barasch envision transporting sunlight to this 60,000 square foot space and building a beautiful underground park, and possibly other amenities.

Wednesday night, they’ll present the idea to members of Community Board 3. Earlier today, I conducted an extensive interview with Ramsey and Barasch.  We’ll have an in-depth report on their proposal Monday.