Last Night’s CB3 Meeting on SPURA Project Planning

Posted on: March 31st, 2011 at 8:34 am by

It was a jam-packed meeting at the Abrons Arts Center on Grand Street last night, as CB3 held another meeting to discuss the decades-vacant SPURA site.  Officials from the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the Department of City Planning, and Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s office all attended the contentious gathering.

Architect Neil Kittredge of Beyer, Blinder, Belle presented a development plan that centered on three main themes: street and pedestrian network, open space, and building mass and height.  To aid him in this feat, Kittredge displayed a scaled Styrofoam model of the SPURA site, complete with a layout of the size and density of possible buildings that could compose the area.

Kitteredge also addressed the significant issue of street and pedestrian network within this new micro neighborhood.  For instance, how to balance vehicular traffic with pedestrian activity, maintaining the street grid, and addressing the challenging of cars short-cutting through the area.

Another theme discussed was open space.  Kittredge displayed a map of parks within a fifteen minute walk of Delancey and Essex Streets.  “We wanted to take a look at what exists in the neighborhood and what these parks are used for,” said Mr. Kittredge.  “A large park is not the most essential thing on the SPURA site.”  He recommended putting a park on site 5, which is the largest site.  He used similar examples like Cobble Hill Park in Brooklyn and ABC Playground on Houston Street.

The final theme discussed was building mass and height.  Kittredge spoke about how, thanks to recently-passed zoning, the wider thoroughfares of Delancey Street and Grand Street allow for buildings with more height and density.  The possiblity of a school, hotel, or even office space was floated for the approximately 1.5 million square feet of open development.  An architect’s wet dream.  “I want to come up with a design that we all like,” said Kittredge.

Another topic of significance that was actually discussed at the outset was the fate of the Essex Street Market.  Cynthia Lamb has collected almost 500 signatures on her petition to save the Essex Street Market.  Her target is 2,000.   You can head here to sign the petition and read other people’s comments; or post your own.  The fate of our beloved neighborhood market is currently an agenda item at next month’s meeting, to be held Monday May 2nd.

Written by Andrew Cohen

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