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(Opinion) Parking on the Lower East Side is Bad and It’s About to Get a Lot Worse

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Rendering shows four large-scale projects coming to the waterfront in the Two Bridges area.
Rendering shows four large-scale projects coming to the waterfront in the Two Bridges area.

The following op/ed was written by Sam Moskowitz, a 30+ year resident of the Lower East Side. He can be reached at samuelkmoskowitz@gmail.comThe Lo-Down welcomes Lower East Side-relevant submissions from members of our community. They may be sent to: tips@thelodownny.com. Editorials on this website represent the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of The Lo-Down.

The Lower East Side as we have known it for the past 50 years is about to change. We are adding 1,000 units at Essex Crossing, 1,000 more at 250 South St. (in Extell Development’s One Manhattan Square), and the 2,775-unit Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Development (LSRD) will pile on and drastically change the landscape of our neighborhood forever. If you are thinking you won’t be affected because you live several blocks away, think again, as the impacts will extend all the way north to Essex Street and beyond. I don’t know how many units the developer will add on the East Broadway Bialystocker site, but if Seward Park cooperators allow the air rights transfer sale, about 3 times the amount of units will be built compared to an as of right project*.

So we’re talking 4,775 units total, about three times the size of the Seward Park Co-op. And how many parking spots will be added to accommodate the luxury unit purchasers who will demand parking for their cars? About -500. Yes, you heard me. We are facing a net loss of 500 spots to accommodate almost 5,000 new apartments.

Map1

The scoping document provided by the Two Bridges LSRD and published on the Lo-Down is packed with troubling alternative facts that they are hoping you don’t read. I’m sure the developer’s environmental studies will show no adverse effects to the neighborhood’s schools, public transportation, traffic, air quality, and other factors they must review as part of the study, but I call shenanigans on their highly flawed parking study.

Their initial parking survey of .25 miles had to be increased to .5 miles just to get the data they are falsely claiming shows off-site capacity. However, the ridiculous notion that off-site parking will meet demand (page 64-65 Table 4 and indicated in the chart below) is undeniably WRONG due to the following reasons: 

1. They do not account for the fact that the vast majority of these parking lots are close to or at 100% of capacity for long-term parking. Many lots show availability in the scoping doc, but only because the lot operators do not lease to capacity to maximize profits on short-term daily/hourly rentals.  

2. The 297 parking spots indicated as Site 11 (map below, Table 4) is Essex Crossing Site 3 (the entirety of Essex Crossing is shown as #3 on the map), which is slated for closure and redevelopment. The extended parking area indicated on this map covers the Essex Crossing site, but the scoping document does not take into account the increased parking demand from that 1,000-unit development.

3. Many of the smaller Chinatown lots are also prime development targets. Maybe not this year or next, but we all know these lots will not all remain parking lots for long and will soon go the way of our Manhattan gas stations…

4. The 250 South St. development is including 110 parking spot for over 1,000 units (200 affordable, 800 market rate). These 100 spots do not alleviate the need for area parking, but only increase demand, as it well below the demand indicated by the 23% of Manhattan residents who own cars. 

This inadequate plan by the developers of the Two Bridges LSRD will compound the negative changes that will be brought by Essex Crossing, 250 South St., and whatever Seward Park cooperators allow to be built on the Bialystocker site on East Broadway. *

chart

What can we do about it? Please take a few minutes and send an email with your comments on this project to rdobrus@planning.nyc.gov.

Please save the date for April 27th and attend either the 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. public scoping meetings at 125 Worth St. If you cannot attend, and even if you can, I strongly urge to submit written comments (feel free to cut and paste from this article) to:

Robert Dobruskin, AICP,  rdobrus@planning.nyc.gov
New York City Planning Commission
ADDRESS   120 Broadway, 31st Floor
NY, NY 10271

* I am not a Seward Park Co-op resident and have nothing to personally gain or lose by the sale of air rights. However, I do believe the infusion of $$$ is a short-sighted decision that will negatively affect the area, and specifically Seward Park cooperators, for the rest of our lives here (not to mention the resale value of the hundreds of your Seward Park neighbors who will be most affected). My family has lived in this neighborhood for six generations, and I can promise you that our decisions today affect our children and following generations. If you are a Seward Park cooperator I strongly urge you to VOTE NO on the air rights sales.

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