Seward Park Plan Places Some Limits on Big Box Stores

Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.
Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

Last week, the city officially began the public approval process for the Seward Park Development Project.  A master plan for the nine parcels adjacent to the Williamsburg Bridge will be voted on by Community Board 3 next month.  The massive document (known as the ULURP application) is 146 pages.  There are also hundreds of pages of technical diagrams and other supporting materials. In the next few days we’re going to take a look at some of the important issues embedded in the application.  Today, we tackle big box stores.

The mixed-use project includes 900 apartments, community facilities, a park and up to 600,000 square feet of commercial space.  CB3 wanted to limit retail stores at Seward Park to 30,000 square feet.  But last month, in outlining their proposal, city planners said they were placing no square footage limit on stores.  In their view, a key to success in the project will be retail diversity — the existence of small stores as well as larger “big box” outlets.

But some changes were made in the document at the request of community board leaders.  For one, the ground floor of each building will be reserved for small shops, presumably geared to the local community.  Larger shops would be located on the second and third levels.  On Delancey Street, the application requires at least two storefronts on each parcel.  On Broome Street, there would have to be at least three storefronts.

There is a catch. There is a provision in the ULURP document allowing the commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development or the president of the NYC Economic Development Corp. to waive the requirement if they believe it would be “substantially economically disadvantageous.”

Will these restrictions be enough for the Community Board?  We’ll find out soon enough. There’s going to be a town hall meeting to discuss the plan two weeks from today, April 18th, at University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street.  The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.  Beforehand, however, there will be a separate technical presentation and question and answer session on the ULURP process. If you’d like to take part in that, it happens at 5 p.m.

You can read the ULURP application here.