Earlier today, we noted that an activist group is stepping up its ongoing war on City Council member Margaret Chin over the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Plan. Last week, Chin urged Community Board 3’s land use committee to vote “yes” on the city’s framework for the 1.65 million square foot project. She acknowledged the community board’s reservations about the proposal due to a 60-year term on the affordable housing units. Chin and her colleague, Council member Rosie Mendez, vowed to fight for permanent affordability.
In a press advisory sent out earlier today, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side said:
Community representatives will demand that Chin retract her statement of support for the City’s pro-developer plan for SPURA at the Community Board meeting this Tuesday, and support the community’s call for: 100% low-income housing; low-cost spaces for community programs and small businesses; and jobs prioritized for the community. Chin last week exhorted the CB 3 Land Use Committee to pass the City’s plan to build luxury apartments, “affordable apartments” for those making as much as $130,000, a hotel, big-box and high-end stores. Her advocacy of this plan will accelerate the displacement of her constituents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side-primarily low-income families and small business owners.
Late this afternoon, we received the following response from Chin’s office:
Members of the ‘Coalition to the Protect the Lower East Side and Chinatown’ have grossly misrepresented my position with regards to the development of SPURA. From day one, I have unequivocally stated that increasing the number of affordable units is necessary. And again, at last week’s meeting, I clearly stated that permanence of affordable housing is one of my highest priorities. I will continue to fight for what the Community Board 3 has identified as priorities when this plan comes to the Council, but at this moment, it is imperative that this project keeps moving forward. For 45 years, these five plots of land have sat vacant on the Lower East Side. Community Board members and residents have spent countless hours over the last three years trying to find a way to get this project moving. The Coalition is seeking to derail this process by spreading misinformation. This type of campaign by the Coalition is unhelpful, and in the end it will diminish the community’s voice and influence in this process. Our goal is to make sure that the development of SPURA follows the guidelines crafted by the community board and that the community remains involved long after ULURP.
The coalition was not among the many community groups participating in the Seward Park planning process. In fact the organization and CB3 have been at odds for several years. Last year, the Coalition joined other groups in opposing the creation of the Chinatown BID, which Chin backed.