Last Night’s SPURA Discussion on Design

Posted on: March 1st, 2011 at 8:17 am by

With the passing of the SPURA development guidelines by the CB3 Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing Committee in January, a followup meeting was held last night at the University Settlement’s Speyer Hall to provide community members an enhanced timeline for the project as a whole.

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Officials from the NYC Economic Development Corporation and design firm Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) were on hand to give presentations and field resident concerns during the preliminary phase of this historic project.  Harvard-educated urban designer Neil Kittredge presented ideas that could be suitable for this gargantuan parcel at the mouth of the Williamsburg Bridge.  BBB boasts quite a resume, having worked on such projects as the Coney Island Strategic Plan, the Princeton Campus Plan at Princeton University, and Stony Brook University on Long Island.

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“We think this firm is a very good match,” quipped David Quart, NYCEDC vice president of development.”  All the experience they [BBB] have in New York and outside New York is a really great fit for this process.”  Kittredge said his firm is honored to be a part of the development, and that the design “should be innovative and relate to the traditions of the neighborhood.”  One of his proposals was creating buildings of different shapes and heights.  He showed examples of similar developments in Portland, Vancouver, and Hamburg, since each of these areas underwent similar transformations to SPURA.   For starters, though, Kittredge feels that Delancey Street can handle larger buildings since it is a wider thoroughfare. And that parking should be pushed underground in order to maximize ground-floor activity.

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Last night’s meeting was the first of three to gather ideas.  “At the third meeting we can lock things down and tweak them a bit,” said Mr. Kittredge.  With many details still unknown and years of work in the pipeline, one thing is for sure – the DOT Municipal Garage on Essex Street will not be included in this project as was originally planned.

The city hopes to have a final development program by the end of 2012.

Written by Andrew Cohen

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