Yesterday, after half a century, the City Planning Commission officially approved a plan for the redevelopment of SPURA. The current plan for this swath of the Lower East Side calls for 900 apartments?half of them permanently affordable?600,000 square feet of commercial space, a new Essex Street Market, a hotel, a park, and more. The plan is the product of much debate, and perhaps it's the most practical use of the space?but it's far from the most interesting. All kinds of schemes have been proposed for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area over the years, and we went back into the Curbed archives to find some of them. Here now, a selection of SPURAlternatives:
1) The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, shown above, wanted to put its new building at Delancy and Norfolk, according to a plan proposed last year. Planda Architecture wanted the white box to work in "opposition" to the rest of the neighborhood with "an opaque and uniform envelope. As a monolith, the building exists by expressing a clear introversion in a heterogeneous environment."
2) A scheme for SPURA by Arquitectonica was shelved in 2005, but the rendering (the lower half of the image above) lives on. The Arquitectonica plan called for "ground-level retail, grocery stores, health clubs, and 20,000 square feet of community facilities."
3) The Low Line, a proposed underground park in an unused trolley terminal below Delancey Street, is right on the border of SPURA, and could still happen?we're not sure what impact SPURA development might have on the plans. While we wait to find out, the Essex Street Market should be getting a mini Low Line model next month.
4) Our favorite SPURA scheme of all is probably also the least likely to see reality of any proposed in the last half-century. It's architect Ju-Hyun Kim's thought experiment, which suggested placing artificial mountains for skiing and hiking atop SPURA's big-box stores. Kim's hope was to put some "shock and awe," back into SPURA, but the City Planning Commission's decision to go ahead took care of that much more simply.
· City Planning Commission Finally Votes Yes on SPURA [Curbed]
· SPURA coverage [Curbed]