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Council Member Chin’s Statement on Seward Park Vote, City Concessions

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Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

We don’t normally post press releases verbatim but, given the high interest in this story, here’s the detailed statement from Council member Margaret Chin’s office concerning today’s committee vote in support of the Seward Park Plan. We’ll have additional reporting later today.

Today, the City Council Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions and the Committee on Land Use vote unanimously to approve the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area mixed-use development application. The modified application will now move to City Planning, prior to a vote before the entire Council, tentatively scheduled for October 11.
“Today’s vote was a landmark moment for the Lower East Side community,” Council Member Margaret Chin said. “The modified SPURA proposal adds 50 more affordable units to the Seward Park development project, and sets aside space for the potential development of a public school. Outside of SPURA, the City has committed to building affordable housing at 21 Spring Street, a city-owned property that has been underutilized for far too long. This affordable housing will go a long way to meet the needs of community that has some of the worst overcrowding in the City.”
“I am proud that the SPURA development is one of the first projects in our City to so thoroughly incorporate community stakeholders into the RFP process,” Council Member Chin said. “My goal was to make sure that the Lower East Side community has a role before and after this project is put out to bid by the City. As per my modifications, a community task force will help define the goals of the RFP, will provide feedback on proposals submitted by developers, and will consult with the City on the final selection. This City has committed to this process and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.”

“We are delighted at the additional commitments that Council Member Margaret Chin has secured from the City during the ULURP process,” Gigi Li, Chair, Community Board 3, said. “Balancing the development of SPURA remains a priority for the community board and we look forward to continuing our work on this project as a member of the Task Force.”
As part of the modifications negotiated by Council Member Chin, the City agreed to add 100 more units to the Seward Park development. Of these units 50 will be market rate, and 50 will be affordable. There will now be 1000 units total in the SPURA development. The breakdown of the affordable units will mirror the guidelines set forth by Community Board 3: 20 percent for low income individuals/families, 10 percent for seniors, 10 percent middle income individuals/families, and 10 percent middle income individuals/families.
Prior to the committee vote, Council member Margaret Chin negotiated the following commitments with Robert K. Steel, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.
The City will reserve 15,000 square feet of space of Site 5 of the Seward Park Project until 2023 for development as a potential public school.
o   The City will formally review the need for school seats in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area in five years. If there is a need, and sufficient capital funding, the City will consider pursuing school construction.
o   Currently, the SCA/DOE does not anticipate a need for more school seats as a result of the proposed Seward Park rezoning.
The City will commit to build affordable housing offsite at 21 Spring Street (Manhattan Block 463, park of Lot 1).
Through an HPD-issued Request for Proposal, the City will develop this site as affordable housing in Community Board 2.
The City will build on the multi-year effort behind the SPURA project and is committed to working with the Community Board as this process continues.
As per the Community Board resolution, the Deputy Mayor’s Office has developed guidelines for the development of a Community Taskforce that will participate in the RFP process.
To ensure that the RFP process reflects the priorities identified by Council Member Chin and the Lower East Side community, Council Member Chin has received the following commitments from the Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and HPD with regards to the Request for Proposals (RFP):
Community Taskforce
o   Prior to releasing the RFP, the City will meet with a Task Force designated by the Community Board to discuss their goals, including, but not limited to, preferences about ground floor retail uses.
o   Task Force will review the final RFP goals and selection criteria prior to City’s release of the RFP.
o   One of the selection criteria will be that the Task Force preferences will be considered in the final selection.
o   Upon receipt of developer proposals, the Task Force will receive summaries of the RFP responses from the City.
o   The City will discuss the proposals with the Task Force, and the Task Force will provide feedback to the City on which proposals meet the community goals.
o   This feedback will be formally considered as part of the selection criteria.
o   Prior to final selection, the City will discuss the proposed selection with the Task Force.
Former Site Tenant Process
o   HPD will work with the Council member, Community Board, and other elected officials on outreach efforts to identify former tenants: including, newspaper ads, printed announcements, and mailings. A formal process will be established for locating, identifying, and registering former site tenants. These individuals will be contacted about housing opportunities when construction commences.
o   Former tenants will be given preference for units for which they income-qualify within the Community board marking preference category for the affordable housing units.
Essex Street Market, if a new Essex St. Market facility is built:
o   It will remain a public market
o   Vendors at the existing building will be given first opportunity to relocate to the new market facility and be offered comparable square footage.
o   The rent schedules and planned increases in the new market facility for existing vendors will be commensurate with his or her rent at the time of the move.
o   NYCEDC will pay all reasonable moving-related expenses.
o   The existing market will continue to operate until any new space is ready to accept vendors, and NYCEDC will help vendors through the transition.
If the SPURA project does not include a new Essex Street market, then the market will remain in its existing building.
Encouraging Local Development Partners and Multiple Respondents
o   Preference will be given to proposals that include a Local Partner; defined as a locally-based organization or entity that has a history of improving the quality of life for Community Board 3 via social services, cultural activities, financial investments, and/or housing.
Multiple Level of Housing Affordability
o   Preference will be given to proposals that provide, within the prescribed income bands, lower income levels, at multiple tiers.
M/WBE Participation
o   Respondents will be required to submit M/WBE Utilization Plans in their responses.
Local Hiring
The RFP will emphasize local hiring by requiring each respondent to include a HireNYC program plan. Preference will also be given to respondents who emphasize permanent jobs for individuals hired from the local area who make below 200% of the poverty level, as well as plans to retain and provide advancement for these employees. Specifically, respondents will be encouraged to focus on the following goals:
o   Hiring Goal: fill 50% of all new permanent jobs created in connection with hires from the local population who are making below 200% of the poverty level
o   Retention Goal: retain 40% of these hires for at least 9 months
o   Training Goal: provide future advancement within a year for at least 30% of these hires
Preference will also be given to those proposals that include skills-training and higher education opportunities for tenants.
·         Storefront Requirements
The City shall deem any proposal that does not conform to the storefront requirements, as adopted by the Council, as non-responsive.

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  1. Amazing. CM Chin and her office did a just unbelievable job here. I would never have predicted they would get so much. The idea of an additional 50 units of affordable housing offsite came entirely (to the best of my knowledge) from their office and was genius. Great job Margaret!

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