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City to Unveil Plan to Replace Garden With Affordable Housing for Seniors

 The city is moving ahead with plans to build affordable housing at the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden.
The city is moving ahead with plans to build affordable housing at the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden.
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Elizabeth Street Garden

SOHO — City officials will present for the first time their plan to build affordable housing for seniors on the site of the beloved Elizabeth Street Garden.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the city agency in charge of affordable housing, is expected to unveil a proposed process and timeline at a public meeting at the Scholastic building in SoHo Wednesday night.

The first step in the process would be releasing a request for proposals inviting developers to apply for the project.

The volunteers who maintain the garden are galvanizing their base to show up at the meeting and express their opposition to building at that site, as they did when the city petitioned the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for a $5,000 grant to build the housing.

"Many of you have asked what you can do to help save the Garden, and the answer is to show up in force at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 20," they wrote in an email blast. "Show New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) that our local community favors saving Elizabeth Street Garden and opposes any development plans!"

HPD's presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session, first with Community Board 2 members and then open to the public for more questions, as well as comments.

The garden volunteers told their supporters to ask HPD how their plan takes into account a dearth of green space in the district and the use of the garden by children and seniors, including those who already live in an affordable housing building at 21 Spring St.

Garden supporters also plan to question how the city's plan to include ground-floor retail in the development will impact local small businesses, and why the agency won't consider building affordable housing at another, much larger city-controlled site at Hudson and Clarkson streets.

Community Board 2 had hoped to redirect the city's attention to that site, the largest of three vacant lots where a Department of Environmental Protection project constructing shafts connected to the city's water tunnel system has been ongoing for more than a decade.

DEP officials were also expected to present proposals Wednesday night for restoring those sites for public use, but postponed their presentation to a later date.

The agency has repeatedly ducked public meetings and attempted to renege on promises to turn over the lots for use as public parks.

DEP did not respond to inquiries regarding why the presentation was postponed and if a new date is set. Community Board 2 chair Tobi Bergman said they did not provide a reason for cancelling, but the chair of the board's Parks and Waterfront Committee, Rich Caccapolo, said the agency committed to attending the committee's February meeting.

The HPD presentation, hosted by Community Board 2's newly formed working group on affordable housing, will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the auditorium of the Scholastic building at 557 Broadway.