Related closes UES playground to begin residential development

Related Companies is finally preparing its longheld Upper East Side development site for the construction of a residential tower, the Wall Street Journal reported, and is closing down the park that currently occupies the land today.

Related acquired the land at 205 East 92nd Street, between Second and Third avenues, along with a nearby parcel for $10 million in 1983 from the city. As part of the purchase, Related had to Maintain The 92nd Street plot as a community playground until June 2008. As The Real Deal reported in 2009, the company filed plans for a 49-story residential tower with 49 affordable rental units, 127 market-rate rentals and 66 condominium units. Today, the company will shut down the park to begin “preparatory site work” for development opportunities it is said to be evaluating.

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But the community, led by New York City Park Advocates, has organized a rally in protest of shutting down the park currently on the land, called Ruppert Playground. Residents say the neighborhood is short of open space even with the park, and though they acknowledge Related owns the site, the want the city to buy it back.

The stand-off shows the downside to private companies providing a temporary public service, according to Bill Beckner, research manager at the National Recreation and Parks Association, as the relationship between the community and the company can sour when the developers want to use the land. [WSJ]

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