“Girls” star Lena Dunham and award-winning director Spike Jonze were the center of attention as co-hosts of last night’s benefit dinner in support of the proposed Lowline underground park. But it was Alicia Glen, New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, who may very have stolen the show.
During remarks at the Lowline’s third annual “anti-gala,” held at the Skyline Modern event space on West 27th Street, Glen made it clear the de Blasio administration is fully in support of the project, which would bring a 60,000 square foot park to an abandoned trolley station below Delancey Street. It was the first time any official representing the mayor had publicly endorsed the initiative.
Glen oversees the Economic Development Corp., as well as the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the two agencies responsible for managing the redevelopment of the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. The Lowline is adjacent to the Seward Park site, where private developers are completing plans for a nearly two-million square foot residential and retail complex. Glen said the project, known as Essex Crossing, is a model of the kind of “equitable and sustainable” development that the mayor seeks to create throughout the city. Half of the apartments to be built are defined by the city as affordable.
Glen asserted that it’s her job to unlock the creative potential in the city, embellishing New York’s reputation as a worldwide center of commerce, culture and innovation. She said the Lowline could become “the city’s next great public space” and suggested that, along with Essex Crossing, it could help advance what she called the revitalization of the Lower East Side. It’s a message that the Seward Park developers, in attendance last night, were very likely delighted to hear. During an interview with The Lo-Down last month, they were not shy about expressing support for the Lowline and argued that it could energize their own retail plans for Delancey Street.
While the city’s support is significant, the Lowline team still lacks what it needs most: approval from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which controls the site, and from Governor Cuomo. Last night, Lowline founders Dan Barasch and James Ramsey said they are still pressing the MTA for access to the site.
During the anti-gala, guests feasted on dishes from LES caterer Neuman’s Kitchen, sipped cocktails from Lower East Side-based chef Dave Arnold and took part in a live auction. Among the items sold: Lena Dunham’s Lowline-inspired dress from designer Rachel Antonoff. The after-party featured James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and a performance by Bleachers, the side project of Jack Antonoff.