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SPURA Plan Finally Passes After Half a Century

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Manhattan Community Board 3 voted unanimously to approve the mixed-use development proposal for SPURA that would allow some life into the lots of fallow real estate that have sat unoccupied below Delancey for almost 50 years. In an impressive piece of political manuevering last night, Council Member Margaret Chin took to the podium at the board meeting on Henry Street, interrupting a string of community members whose centerpiece complaint was the lack of a permanent provision for affordable housing in any development. Chin announced that City Hall agreed to commit to permanent affordabe housing at the SPURA site—not the 60-year affordability provision that had so many speakers aggrieved—before letting the public statements by community members resume.

Chin's announcement didn't stop people from stepping to the mic after she was done, but it did seem to take the wind out of SPURA opponents' sails, as they often had to adjust their prepared comments mid-stream to account for the fact that the City now appeared to support their demand for permanent housing affordability. Later, Community Board 3 would vote 49-0 in favor of approving the City's SPURA proposal, with one abstention.

The meeting in the auditorium at 301 Henry Street began inauspiciously, with a malfunctioning microphone forcing speakers to strain to be heard by the approximately 300 people crowded into the room before someone could run and find a replacement. CB3 Chair Dominic Berg asked public speakers to be mindful of the time and try not to just repeat points that had been made by previous speakers. That was not to be, however, as opponents to the SPURA plan hammered on a number of well-established platform points—permanent provision for affordable housing, more schools, no big box stores (specifically: Wal-Mart), and jobs for local residents. The first speaker, labor organizer Joel Feingold, admitted that he wasn't even a Lower East Side resident, before urging the crowd to join him in the chant, "Fight, fight, fight! Housing is a human right!" Altogether, 18 speakers commented against the SPURA proposal, six supported it, and two reserved their time to just criticize Wal-Mart.
· SPURA coverage [Curbed]