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Seward Park Project Proposals Due Monday; No Details Will be Released

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Developers are rushing to complete their proposals for the Seward Park development site in advance of Monday’s deadline for submissions.  While many non-profit groups, arts organizations and local businesses have been working with large development firms making pitches to the city, little or no information will be available to the general public next week.  In fact, the contours of the plan for the 1.65 million square foot site near the Williamsburg Bridge will likely stay under wraps until the fall, when the winning bid or bids is expected to be announced.

According to a spokesperson for the Economic Development Corp. (EDC), the lead agency in the project, details such as the numbers of proposals received and the general nature of the submissions will not be made public.  In the past, EDC officials have stated that city rules meant to ensure fair bidding processes require confidentiality.   In keeping with an agreement with Community Board 3, a community task force will be provided  “summaries—with identifying information removed… of viable responses.”  Prior to the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) earlier this year, the task force wrote guidelines that it will use to evaluate the proposals.

This afternoon, CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li, a task force member, said she expected the group to get a look at the summaries early in the summer. City planners are expected to brief CB3’s land use committee in July, but that presentation is not likely to include any details from the submissions.  Last month, EDC officials appeared before the committee, but offered no new information about the Seward Park project.

In the past several weeks, the city answered in writing questions from developers about the RFP.  Some of New York’s biggest developers are expected to submit plans for the nine parcel site, which is destined to include 1000 new apartments, up to 600,000 square feet of commercial space and community facilities.  Developers have partnered with some, if not all, of the neighborhood’s not-for-profit housing developers as well as large arts organizations.  Major grocery store chains, such as Fairway and Trader Joe’s, are also believed to be in the mix.

While the community task force will “provide feedback as to which proposal(s) and aspects of proposal(s) it considers to best meet the community goals,” and that “feedback will be formally considered as part of the selection criteria,” city officials, including representatives from the EDC and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will choose the winning bids.


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