The Real Deal New York

City-owned East Chelsea site sparks debate

June 07, 2011 12:10PM

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Christine Quinn and the East Chelsea site

It’s not your typical development controversy pitting preservationists against costly new projects at the city-owned Lot On West 20th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues. According to the Wall Street Journal, nobody is mourning the Department of Sanitation’s departure from the site, rather they’re at odds over whether to build 75 units of middle-income housing or bring a playground to the site. Some residents were thrilled by the prospect of a park at the city-owned site only to find that during a 2009 rezoning, the city agreed to set aside the site for affordable housing. Now park advocates complain there wasn’t sufficient public debate over the site. “These are two vital priorities, but for us this is an issue of balance,” said Matthew Weiss, president of Friends of 20th Street Park, who has lived in the area for three years. “There are no shortages of struggling properties in Chelsea that can be creatively repurposed to bring more housing.” But the local community board is concerned that the neighborhood is losing its diversity because of the influx of expensive housing. As a result, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose district includes the neighborhood, is trying to strike a deal to bring a park elsewhere in east Chelsea. [WSJ]


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