City, CB3 Begin to Plan for SPURA Environmental Review

Seward Park redevelopment area.

Here’s a quick recap from last night’s meeting of Community Board 3’s land use committee, which is planning for the redevelopment of the 7-acre Seward Park site (SPURA).  For the first time, there was at least an inkling from the city that they see some merit in the CB3’s planning guidelines, passed last January.

Officials with the NYC Economic Development Corp. said it would likely be many months, perhaps more than a year, before they commit to any specific plan for SPURA.  But in preparing for a sweeping environmental review, which is costing them more than $1 million, they outlined the following “maximum” program:

  • a development project on 9 parcels totaling 1.5 million square feet.
  • a project in which 60% of the available square footage (FAR) is devoted to residential units
  • a project in which 40% of the available square footage is devoted to non-residential uses (commercial & community spaces)
  • approximately 900 units of housing (50% of those units being affordable housing)
  • 10,000 square feet of open (green) space
  • replacing (in underground garages) 350 parking spaces that will be lost on the SPURA surface lots
  • a public market; either a new facility on Site #2, a renovated facility in the current Essex Street Market location or two markets (one on Site 2 and one on Site 9).
  • A 200-room hotel

These parameters do not, the officials emphasized, represent anything close to a final plan (they essentially reflect CB3’s guidelines). They are only meant to guide the environmental review, which will study the “worst case” environmental impact on the neighborhood.

AKRF, an environmental planning firm, will be conducting the review, which will stretch through most of 2012.  Towards the end of next month, the city will release a draft “scoping document,” a detailed description of what will be studied.  The review will cover a wide range of impacts, including: the effects a “maximum” project would have on air, water, transportation, surrounding housing, neighborhood character, etc.

Once the draft document is released, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel’s office will schedule a public hearing.  That hearing will likely be held in early October. Sometime after the study is completed (in the fall of 2012), the city and community board would develop a master plan, begin the land use approval process (ULURP) and, finally, issue requests for proposals from developers.

Last night, several members of the committee questioned various aspects of the proposed environmental review. We’ll have a full report detailing their concerns and the city’s response, in the next week.