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CB3 Signals Support for Two New Residential Projects; East Broadway Developer Turned Away Again

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Community Board 3’s land use committee slogged through a very full agenda in a steamy four hour meeting last night. We’ll have more on their discussions with the Chinatown Working Group later. First some other matters.

The panel approved two projects that have been in the works for many years: a residential building for formerly homeless, mentally ill and low income tenants at 535-537 East 11th Street — and a development for young adults aging out of foster care at 706-712 East 9th Street. Both projects were presented to CB3 as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The City Planning Commission and City Council must also sign off on the plans.

The 11th Street building is being developed by Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, in collaboration with Community Access. It will include 27 apartments for mentally ill and/or formerly homeless residents, as well as 18 low income tenants. The building on 9th Street is a collaboration among Loisaida, University Settlement and Phipps Houses. There will be 46 apartments for residents who are too old for foster care and young single adults with children. There will also be a 10,000 square foot community center open to the general public. Although the committee approved the proposals the full board will have the final say on July 27th.

Also last night, Wai Sun Realty appeared before the board for the third time in a year, in its continuing campaign to resume work on a stalled project at 183 East Broadway. The Department of Buildings slapped a “stop work order” on this site back in the spring of 2009, saying the 12-story residential tower was in violation of East Broadway zoning ordinances.

Seeking a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals, Wai Sun presented CB3 with revised plans, including the addition of limestone on the facade, iron balconies and the elimination of two parking spaces.  They argued it would be wrong to penalize a developer for proceeding with a project the Buildings Department had initially approved.  If the project (now planned as a 7 story building) does not go forward soon the owner said it’s possible he would default on a $5 million loan.He also presented a letter, detailing efforts made to attract a tenant for the proposed community facility in the building.

The committee was unswayed, especially since the development does not include any affordable housing (not a viable option in such a small building, the developer says). There was no official vote last night (many overheated members had already gone home). The issue will be revisited at the full board meeting later this month.

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