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New Essex Crossing Details Raise Concerns of Overcrowding

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The latest details about the megaproject that will transform the area once known as SPURA have raised new questions about density for the Lower East Side. At a community board meeting last night, concerns were voiced about the large influx of people that Essex Crossing will bring to a long undeveloped piece of the neighborhood. The nine parcel development to rise on parking lots and soon-to-be demolished low rises will include 1,000 apartments, a movie theater, a bowling alley, an Andy Warhol museum and retail—all in a nook of Manhattan already buzzing with cyclists, pedestrians, and traffic where the Williamsburg Bridge levels at Delancey Street. All those details have come to light over the last couple of years, but new renderings revealed yesterday along with presentations from architects stirred up a conversation about transportation, safety, and accessibility to items such as healthcare, schools, and, the rooftop farm at site two.

Members of Community Board 3's land use committee wanted to know if there was an overall plan for how to get people in and out. One question from the room regarded any possibility of the MTA increasing bus service. Another local suggested that Site Six, which is 100 percent affordable for senior citizens at Clinton Street, should have an entrance on Broome Street instead of busy Delancey Street, right by the bridge. Someone else asked about bike storage. And a woman asked if there would be any healthcare facilities guaranteed, now that nearby Downtown Health Center located at an Essex Street Market building will move after its lease ends in a handful of years.

But one of the biggest concerns was parking. "I didn't realize there wasn't going to be any parking," said committee chair Linda Jones. "I think for something that has a lot of market rate housing, the fact that there's no parking is really going to be an issue," she said. Isaac Henderson, project manager of L+M Development Partners, said the developer consortium undertaking this project, Delancey Associates, has been working with DOT on traffic issues. Studying the area has found that it would be too dangerous to include more parking. "Clinton and Norfolk have significant traffic issues," Henderson said. "People use those two streets to access the bridge and it creates a very unhealthy and unsafe environment."

Some of these issues were already considered and are expected to to come up at a task force meeting next week, one committee member said. The next big question was about the timeframe, given all the construction that lies ahead. While the whole thing might finish around 2024, Site Two, the "biggest and most complicated," in Henderson's words, including a Regal movie theater and a new Essex Street Market, should be completed by 2018, along with sites One and Five.
· The First 4 Buildings To Rise at Essex Crossing, Revealed! [Curbed]
· All Essex Crossing coverage [Curbed]