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Community Board Approves Development Plan for Lower East Side Lots

By Patrick Hedlund | January 26, 2011 4:15pm
An aerial view of the SPURA site.
An aerial view of the SPURA site.
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NYC EDC / thelowdownny.com

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

LOWER EAST SIDE — A plan to redevelop a large swath of land near the Williamsburg Bridge that has sat unused for more than 40 years earned approval from the local community board Tuesday.

The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) consists of five lots just south of Delancey Street that have remained undeveloped for decades after the city razed the site's former tenement buildings and displaced thousands of residents.

The project also includes five additional sites located around Essex Street near the SPURA lots, as well as the Essex Street Market.

Community Board 3 unanimously approved the plan — which includes a 50-50 split between market-rate and affordable housing for the approximately 1,000 units to be built on the site — after spending the last two-and-a-half years crafting a final plan.

"This is a very monumental and historic day for the Lower East Side, and a real testament to what community boards can do," said CB 3 chairman Dominic Pisciotta, who helped guide the proposal with the board's land use committee.

The plan, which ultimately earned support from all of the area's elected officials, still failed to satisfy some housing advocates who believed any development there should include at least 70 percent affordable housing.

"They should be ashamed of themselves," said Adrienne Chevrestt, a longtime resident of the Masaryk Towers complex located near the site, of the committee's decision. "I feel betrayed by these guidelines in their current state."

Nonetheless, politicians from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer praised the planning process and its outcome.

"Now the Lower East Side community, for the first time, has a chance to endorse a SPURA plan with a foundation of community consensus," Stringer said in a statement. "… [T]he members of the Board have achieved something remarkable — they have put aside decades of disagreements and created a roadmap for how SPURA development can meet community needs."