We’ve just learned that the NYC Economic Development Corp. has hired an architectural firm to work with the community on the first phase of the Seward Park redevelopment project. Beyer Binder Belle, a prestigious New York-based company, will be advising the city and Community Board 3 on preliminary urban design issues for the 10 SPURA parcels.
Last month, CB3 ended a 43-year-old stalemate, agreeing to a set of guidelines for the Seward Park site. This month, they’ll get to work on more specific plans for the mixed-use, mixed-income project at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. Beyer Blinder Belle, established in 1968, developed a specialty in historic preservation.
The firm has handled high profile restoration projects, including the Apollo Theater, Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building. But, more relevant to the task at hand, it has a planning division which has been involved in many large-scale redevelopment projects. Among them: the Coney Island, Governors Island and DUMBO strategic planning efforts. On its web site, Beyer Blinder Belle notes:
(The firm) was founded in the wake of the urban renewal movement in the United States, during which the social fabric of cities, communities and buildings was compromised by the prevailing approaches to planning and architecture. We pioneered and defined a different approach to the design of the built environment which focused on the social integrity of communities and institutions empowering the daily lives of people; their interaction with each other on streets and in neighborhoods; their potential to take pleasure in moving through the city; and their memories and associations with the physical fabric around them.
While significant, the announcement should not be taken as a definitive indication that the city has made a final decision about moving ahead with the redevelopment of SPURA. City agencies are in the process of evaluating the community board’s guidelines. The EDC has emphasized repeatedly that they are committed to working with CB3 throughout the planning process.
On Monday February 28th, at 6:30pm, officials from the EDC and the Department of City Planning will outline proposed next steps in the process. The meeting will be held at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street.