Plans to replace the Elizabeth Street Garden with a senior affordable housing development are officially moving forward. On Friday morning, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Housing Development Corporation jointly announced the proposal for a seven-story building with 121 permanently affordable apartments at the site of the garden.
Plans to replace the garden with an affordable housing development have been in the works since at least 2015, and have been opposed by many Nolita residents right from the start. The City Council member representing the neighborhood, Margaret Chin, almost lost the democratic primary to her opponent, Christopher Marte, over this issue.
The local community board (CB2) has also opposed the project, and the board and many local residents have continually pointed to an empty, city-owned lot at 388 Hudson Street as an alternate site to develop affordable housing.
“The bottom line is that the destruction of Elizabeth Street Garden will be absolutely devastating to this neighborhood and our community,” said Joseph Reiver, the executive director of the Elizabeth Street Garden, in a statement. “No matter how the City sugar coats their plans, they are yet again, taking away a public community treasure.”
But the city remains undeterred; on Friday, HPD and HDC announced that it had selected Pennrose Properties, LLC, Habitat for Humanity New York City (Habitat NYC), and RiseBoro Community Partnerships, Inc to develop the project, known as Haven Green, with Curtis + Ginsberg Architects to design the project. The announcement followed the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in September.
To mollify aggrieved locals, the city also revealed plans for 7,600 square feet of publicly-accessible green space in the form of a garden that will be accessible both from Mott Street, and from Elizabeth Street through a covered pathway that will go through the building, into the garden. The city says that local residents will be able to able to decide how this new garden is developed.
Community group the Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden plans to hold a rally on Monday to oppose these development plans.
“Building shadows would eliminate the sunlight that currently floods the Garden,” the group said in an email sent out earlier today. “The development would destroy the park, large trees, lawn, planting beds and public programming space and replace them with a small and heavily shaded privately owned public space on Mott Street.”
The project will have to go through a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, according to the New York Daily News, which first reported on this development, so there will still be a lot of time for local residents to publicly voice their opposition to the project. Council member Chin is in favor of the development, so residents opposed to the project certainly have an uphill task ahead of them.
As plans stand right now, Haven Green will be built to passive house standards. It will be affordable to seniors making between $20,040 and $40,080 annually, and of the total 121 units, 37 will be set aside for the formerly homeless.
In addition, residents here will also have access to a library, a computer lab, and a roof terrace. The building will also serve as a new headquarters for Habitat for Humanity NYC, and LGBTQ senior services group, SAGE will also have an office and provide services on site.
“As public land grows more scarce in New York City, we see each remaining site as an opportunity to meet as many of the urgent needs and priorities of communities as possible,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, in a statement. “The selected development proposal strikes a balance between the desperate need for affordable senior housing and dedicated public open space, making this a win-win for the neighborhood.”