Nonprofit sues city over plan to build senior complex on garden site

City wants to build seven-story complex for seniors

(Credit: Google, Getty)
(Credit: Google, Getty)

A new lawsuit has ramped up a fight over preserving green space and providing housing for low-income seniors.

A nonprofit group is suing the city and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to try to stop the city from turning the Elizabeth Street Garden in Nolita into a seven-story affordable housing complex for seniors, Gothamist reported.

The group, the Elizabeth Street Garden, alleges the city and HPD did not take into account a range of environmental impacts when they decided to move ahead with a plan to replace the half-acre plot between Prince and Spring Streets with the project, which would provide more than 120 units. The group wants the court to force HPD to provide an environmental impact statement to analyze the project’s effects, as the HPD previously ruled that a statement wasn’t needed, the outlet reported.

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The city, which owns the land, has maintained that the project fulfills a long-standing need. The City Council will likely approve it and, unless the lawsuit hinders construction, the complex would be built by 2021, according to the New York Times.

“I feel that people are upset and it pains me that I have to disagree with people that are so committed to their point of view,” Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who supports the housing project and represents the garden’s district, told the Times. “But there are seniors that don’t have affordable housing and they helped build up our city. They helped build up our neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, those who want to keep the garden — noted for its sculptures and 200-year history — say open space shouldn’t be compromised.

“The fight is not over,” Joseph River, the executive director of the Elizabeth Street Garden, told Gothamist. “It’s just getting started.” [Gothamist, NYT] — Mary Diduch