Massive Seward Park development nears approval

May 14, 2012 08:30AM

A plan for 1.65 million square feet of development is about to clear the first hurdle needed for it to rise on the largest city-owned plot of developable land south of 96th Street. Crain’s reported that Community Board 3 is likely to approve a plan to bring residential, commercial and retail space to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area east of Delancey and Essex streets on the Lower East Side.

The area has been in flux for the last 47 years, after the city demolished tenements that once occupied the seven acres. Past visions for the site were held up by fights over the housing mix, with many community activists demanding an entirely affordable complex. But those opponents have finally relented. Forty percent of the 1.65 million square feet would be reserved for 900 apartments, and only half of them would be affordable.

Community Board 3 is expected to approve the plan next week, and City Council should give its thumbs up by the fall.

“There is no doubt that it will become a reality,” said David McWater, co-chair of the board’s committee on land use, zoning and housing.

Meanwhile, local businesses — which still struggle with a dearth of daytime foot traffic — are eagerly awaiting the arrival of more businesses and commercial tenants to drive commerce in the area. [Crain’s]