Elizabeth Street Garden Threatened; Considered for SPURA ‘Affordable Housing’

Posted on: October 23rd, 2013 at 5:51 am by

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That thirty-year-old sculpture garden on Elizabeth Street which so often attracts the gaze of passersby is threatened. Like countless other “green” neighborhood treasures, the city-owned parcel began life as a fallow 20,000 square-foot lot. Its subsequent beautification by the adjacent gallery and the hypergentrification of Little Italy now make the Elizabeth Street Garden a prime target for development. Though, with a twist. Enter SPURA and the fight for “affordable housing.”

Plans for affordable housing have been on the table for this through-lot since 1983, when the city apparently transferred the former school property to a private entity for its development. That obviously failed to transpire. Here we are thirty years later with no building and a one-of-a-kind community amenity.

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In discussions for the redevelopment of SPURA, the Garden was identified as a potential offsite development opportunity for affordable housing. As you might imagine, the natives are restless … and worried about a possible loss. Neighbors have already organized to battle, petitioning Chin to consider developing the housing elsewhere. In response to the outcry, a public hearing to “assess the best use” of the land has been scheduled by Community Board 2. That date is November 4, 6:30 pm.

There is also an online petition circulating that is in support of the garden. It currently boasts over 700 signatures.

More from CB2:

In 1983, part of a site where a public school had been was transferred by the city to a private entity for development of affordable housing at 21 Spring Street. The remainder of the school site has been under a month-to-month lease to a gallery since 1991 and is used for storage and display of large architectural artifacts in an attractive garden setting. The gallery owner has recently improved public access to the garden and a volunteer group of neighbors has formed to enhance the garden and sponsor public events. As part of the SPURA project discussions with Community Board 3, the lot was identified as a possible site for development of affordable housing

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