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SPURA Development Plan on Lower East Side Gets City Planning Approval

By Serena Solomon | August 22, 2012 2:19pm

MANHATTAN — The massive development plan for several lots on the Lower East Side moved a step closer to reality after the City Planning Commission gave it the green light Wednesday.

The 1.65-million-square-foot mixed-used development planned for the vacant blocks in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) along Delancey Street received approval from the commission without any requested modifications, a spokeswoman for the agency confirmed.

The project is currently working its way through the city's land-use review process (ULURP) and will now head to the City Council for a vote before the mayor gives his final approval.

SPURA has been plagued with difficulties and numerous false starts since tenement buildings on the lots were torn down in the 1960s to make way for development that never occurred.

The current plan — which includes space for retail stores, offices, community facilities and a bundle of 900 apartments with 50 percent of them allocated for permanent affordable housing — is the closest any proposal has come to being built.

Community Board 3 approved the plan — a product of the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Housing Preservation — for half the units to be made permanently affordable.

Borough President Scott Stringer also backed the plan, provided it include a provision for a school in the development and restrictions on retail outlets of more than 30,000 square feet to prevent any big-box stores.

He is joined by other local organizations, such as the Urban Justice Center, that have also called for the inclusion of a school.

Both Community Board 3 and neighborhood advocacy group Good Old Lower East Side share Stringer’s concern that a big-box store could still open in the future development.

The plan will now go before the City Council in the coming weeks and include another public hearing.