Walking down Soho’s Elizabeth Street can feel like a neverending vortex of high-class retail, where the designer clothing racks outnumber the people. That is, until you arrive at the lush, green Elizabeth Street Garden, between Prince and Spring Streets. The green “oasis” (as many have dubbed it) and community hub is once again being actively considered for a site for affordable senior housing, a decision that has long been opposed by Community Board 2 but supported by the area’s City Council member Margaret Chin.
The 20,000-square-foot garden is city-owned, but privately leased by gallerist Allan Reiver, who initially planned to use it to store his sculptures but opened it up as a unique respite from the city’s concrete surroundings, full of colorful flowers, green grass, seating areas, and many eye-catching sculptures. Volunteer-run, the garden has been used for community events, education, performances, film screenings, and an annual Harvest Festival. Some of these events draw hundreds of people, located in a neighborhood the NYC Parks Department has previously identified as “underserved by open space.”
Last week, news surfaced that the NYC Housing and Preservation Development (HPD) had officially issued a Request for Proposals to develop the land the garden stands on. Wednesday afternoon, dozens gathered in the garden for a press conference, bearing signs and passionately asserting their garden’s right to remain where it is.
We’ve known about the impending “injection of luxury” slated for Bushwick– the three- and four-story types have been popping up for a while now, and emerging residential plans are starting to look more and more like the glassy condominium buildings and fancy new high-rises of the Williamsburg waterfront and Lower East Side. The neighborhood got its very first boutique hotel earlier this year and continues to see the development of fancy-dorm-like compounds, Colony 1209 for one. Hell, Bushwick’s even getting its very own “European Village” (although not everyone’s ready to welcome the newcomers’ plans to “interrupt” the current order).
East Houston street is currently a hotbed of development, as any casual stroll down the street will reveal. Endless scaffolding, boarded-up properties, fences, and signs announcing new things to come line the sidewalks of lots previously occupied by local shops, community facilities, and residential buildings. Although a 2008 rezoning was implemented, ostensibly to preserve the existing buildings and the affordable housing that many of them contained, developers who bought up a sliver of land at 255 East Houston Street may get a special rezoning through of their own.
After 60 days on the table, the city’s offer to pay the former CitiStorage site’s owner $100 million for the final parcel of the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park has officially expired. With Norman Brodsky’s default rejection of the offer (less than half the $250 million he was hoping for) questions emerge as to whether the Williamsburg waterfront park—which was first promised in 2005 as part of a rezoning deal that allowed for more high-rise developments in the sought-after neighborhood—will ever be completely finished.
Earlier this year, when the East Village’s beloved Stage Restaurant closed in the wake of a dispute with its landlord Icon Realty Management, Brooklyn-based artist Gilf! plastered the diner’s former home with caution tape reading “Gentrification in Progress.” It wasn’t the first time one of the company’s properties was the site of artistic protest: Karen Platt, a resident of an Icon-owned building on East 5th Street, has been known to chalk up the sidewalk with messages like “Enough Is Enough,” and over July 4th weekend, someone spray-painted a message on the sidewalk in front of the now for-rent Stage space that advised, “DO NOT RENT HERE. DO NOT BUY HERE. BOYCOTT IN EFFECT.” More →
Public officials are demanding, in louder and louder voices, to know why and how the city quietly allowed a Lower East Side building once reserved for non-profit use to be turned into luxury housing. Today, local politicians gathered to push for stronger transparency and oversight, to prevent it from happening again.
The former schoolhouse at 45 Rivington was operated by VillageCare as an AIDS/HIV treatment facility, under a deed restriction established in 1992 that limited the building to non-profit usage. Since the HIV crisis has dimmed in the Lower East Side, the facility was no longer needed at capacity. At the end of 2014, VillageCare sought to sell it to a for-profit nursing-home operator, Allure Group, with local officials’ understanding that it would remain some kind of medical facility for the general population, likely for the many seniors in the neighborhood.
Protestors organized by Coalition to Protect Chinatown on Wednesday (Photo by Kavitha Surana)
A simple red brick building established by a non-profit affordable housing developer two decades ago, 82 Rutgers Slip houses low and moderate-income residents, some who were previously homeless. Just down the street, a glossy 80-story tower from Extell–dubbed One Manhattan Square–is rising where a Pathmark Supermarket once stood. When it’s finished, it’ll boast a fire pit, doggy spa and tree houses, priced to entice the moderate-high-end buyers of Asia (starting at $1 million). More →
In the battle against tenant harassment and displacement, we’ve often seen the mayor receive sharp criticism from the indefatigable Coalition to Protect Chinatown (members are once again gathering tomorrow to demand that work be stopped on Extell’s 80-story tower). But yesterday de Blasio’s office released figures showing he’s making a dent in the problem. Thanks to recent measures like a $62 million increase in free legal services for tenants and a roving tenant support unit, his office says evictions by City Marshals have decreased from 28,849 in 2013 to 21,988 last year. More →
St. Marks is now bereft of the Sock Man and soon Trash and Vaudeville, and now it looks like the Chase bank building at 130 Second Avenue will also be a goner. The branch was cleared for demolition Friday, leaving us to wonder what will replace it.
Nearly a year after a seven-alarm fire ravaged the CitiStorage building in Williamsburg, the fate of the hotly contested land remains in limbo. On Sunday, the fire’s anniversary, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park will gather to once again call on the city to turn the controversial plot into parkland.