1250 Broadway, 27th Floor New York, NY 10001

THE DESTRUCTION OF ELIZABETH STREET GARDEN

Haven Green Rendering. Image Credit: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects.

Senior affordable housing proposal would build over existing community park and green space. On Friday December 8, 2017, the New York City Housing and Preservation Department announced development plans that will create 121 affordable senior apartments and a community designed public open space in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan. Haven Green, an affordable new senior housing development will be affordable to seniors earning between $20,040 and $40,080 and include housing for formerly homeless seniors.

The site is presently occupied by the Elizabeth Street Garden, bounded by Elizabeth Street to the east, Mott Street to the West, Prince Street to the North and Spring Street to the South.

Haven Green will be developed by Pennrose Properties, LLC, Habitat for Humanity New York City (Habitat NYC), and RiseBoro Community Partnerships, Inc. The development proposal provides a significant number of much needed affordable housing units for seniors while providing over 7,600 square feet of high-quality publicly-accessible open space. The public space design seeks to recreate many of the existing features and layout of the site, including passive spaces, sculptures and art pieces, lawns, diverse plantings, space for gardening, and open seating. The new space will maintain flexibility and be further developed by the community through an upcoming participatory design process.

Building residents will have access to a residential library, computer lab, and roof terrace. RiseBoro will provide onsite social services, programming, and case management to the residents. The apartments will meet Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) and the building will incorporate elements of Active and Universal Design to ensure safe and healthy affordable homes for future senior residents.

The development will serve as Habitat NYC’s new headquarters. Habitat NYC will provide credit counseling and education services to residents and community members, as well as manage the ongoing maintenance and programming for the open public space. A portion of the Habitat NYC space will serve as a flexible workspace for community activities. SAGE, the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults, will maintain offices on the main floor through which a Resident Services Coordinator will provide care and direct access to the SAGE network of LGBTQ inclusive services and senior centers.

The proposed development will be constructed to Passive House standards while maximizing sunlight exposure and providing fluid access to the public open space. The Mott Street side of the site will remain unbuilt and a passageway through the building will provide access to the public open space from both sides of the development site. The Passive House design will significantly reduce the building’s energy consumption. This development is expected to use 60-70% less energy than a standard building of its kind. The building and the public open space will be designed to manage and reuse storm water through the use of permeable surfaces covering the majority of the open space and a rooftop rainwater harvesting system.

Haven Green will fulfill the Administration’s goal to provide affordable homes for seniors. The development will be financed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0 Plan to create and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing.

Haven Green Public Open Space Rendering. Image Credit: Curtis + Ginsberg Architects.

“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. This thoughtful, energy-efficient design will provide deeply affordable housing for 121 seniors, community services through established non-profit partners, and significant publicly-accessible open space,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.

“The City’s proposal marks a victory for those who value the need for affordable senior housing and open space in Lower Manhattan,” said New York City Council Member Margaret Chin. “This plan delivers on our commitment to our most vulnerable seniors – including seniors of the Stonewall generation who would not only have direct access to vital LGBTQ services, but also an opportunity to age in the very community where their struggle for equality and inclusion began. With the Mott Street side of the site remaining unbuilt, community members from all walks of life would have an opportunity to enjoy more than 7,6000 square feet of public green space.”

Opposition

The project does have its detractors which includes the Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden. Jeannine Kiely, the Organizations President, released a statement to CityLand saying:

“HPD’s plan is a false choice that pits housing against open space. Elizabeth Street Garden is located in the only downtown Manhattan neighborhood that the NYC Parks Department identifies as “underserved” by open space. Meanwhile, Manhattan Community Board 2 has identified a nearby site on Hudson and Clarkson street, a vacant city-owned lot that can provide five times as much housing as the Elizabeth Street Garden site, without destroying the Garden.”

On December 8, 2017, State Senator-elect Brian Kavanagh, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Community Board 2 Chair Terri Cude released astatement in opposition to the City’s proposal:

Elizabeth Street Gardens. Image Credit: ElizabethStreetGarden.com

“We oppose this development proposal. Lower Manhattan needs both more affordable housing and more open space, and we reject as false the idea that we must choose between these two vital community needs. There’s no doubt we must address our City’s affordability crisis. We have all been and will remain deeply committed to that effort. But affordability cannot come at the expense of the precious open spaces in our communities. We can — and must — both build affordable housing and preserve our green spaces. Rather than razing a much loved and much needed community asset in Elizabeth Street Garden, the City should work with Community Board 2 to select more appropriate locations that will allow for both affordable housing and preservation of the Garden.”

This coalition believes that the Pennrose development will destroy the garden despite providing community space. For more information about this opposition, please click: here.

By: Brian Kaszuba (Brian is the CityLand Editor and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2004).

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