CB3 Signals Support of Siempre Verde Garden, Shuns Proposed Development

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 at 6:09 am by
This image has been archived or removed.

The Siempre Verde Garden spent the last month frantically rallying the troops against the goliath of luxury development. It was a grassroots full-court press – both through social media and in real life – that ultimately succeeded in netting nearly 1,000 signatures in opposition to the plans. What’s more, twelve other neighborhood gardens and a bevy of residents with props were in attendance yesterday evening for a show of support at the Land Use subcommittee of Community Board 3. In the end, the panel fully backed the bid for garden permanence.

But not before some oratory and theatrics.

A representative from HPD’s Manhattan Planning division revisited the possibly of trading the three parcels – 181 Stanton and 137-139 Attorney – for 16 total residential units (3 of which are affordable). Her presentation was simply a summary of the situation, and seemed to favor development. Especially since the neighborhood would gain much-needed affordable housing.

This image has been archived or removed.

In April 2012, CB3 approved the pitch to combine and sell two city lots to the owner of the third (William Gottlieb Real Estate) in order to develop the five-story building; the developer and HPD were told to return after sixty days to discuss updates, but instead spent all of 2013 “negotiating” overall plans; Siempre Verde Garden was meantime born in fall of 2012 and quickly recognized as a GreenThumb space.

Once the floor was ceded to the board and members of the public, it was open season. Perhaps the sharpest dagger in the belt was the fact that neither HPD nor billion-dollar firm William Gottlieb Real Estate returned to deliver updates as promised. Seen as weakness and a significant leverage point, the point was made that this landowner is irresponsible and difficult to take seriously. Caught between both sides, the city rep claimed to have no knowledge of the setup, but was reminded that the minutes are made available to the public. Some other notable soundbytes from the panel included, “We will fight for every square-foot of vacant space for community benefit,” or, “Public land shouldn’t satisfy a private developer.”

Garden members described their toils to create this intra-tenement urban oasis. How 20 tons of debris was removed and replaced with 50 cubic-yards of fill, and all financed by the money and motivation of grants and volunteers. Or how the neighborhood benefited from the open space, whether through social networking, planting vegetables, or as an altar for a couple without means.

This image has been archived or removed.

Throughout the hour-long debate/discussion, CB3 remained fairly united regarding the importance of gardens, despite the priority directive of affordable housing. The motion to support transfer of the two city-owned parcels to the Parks Department for permanent status as the Siempre Verde Garden carried the night; the language also includes a provision that nullifies the 2012 letter of approval for the development.

Recent Stories

One Week After Reopening, Nathan Straus Playground is Again Locked

Not so fast. One week after the Parks Department unlocked Nathan Straus Playground to the public, it’s again gated. Readers report that the padlocks returned on Tuesday without any communication from the city. As reported, the Lower East Side park, which abuts the Attorney Street cul-de-sac, had been closed without notice for nearly a month […]

Parisi Bakery Building on Elizabeth Street Listed for $5.99M

The NoHo building housing Parisi Bakery is up for sale, and the store may not survive. Robert Parisi – building owner and former head baker of the family business – listed 290 Elizabeth Street on the market. He’s seeking $5.99 million for the seven-unit, mixed-use tenement. Parisi purchased the property in 1983 for $200,000, property […]

Astor Place Hair to Close Permanently Next Month Due to Pandemic

You’ve seen, you’ve read, you’ve heard. News broke over the weekend that Astor Place Hairstylists, a bastion of affordable cuts, is closing down for good. Barring some miracle, the 74-year-old business will be another victim of this dreadful pandemic. Apparently, management informed staff last Friday. Its final day on the namesake block is at the […]

See the Subways with the MTA’s Live Subway Map

It’s been a long time coming, but the MTA map is finally going digital. Now officially in beta, the MTA’s “Live Subway Map” is a dynamic interface showing real time train locations, arrival times, and service alerts, among other pertinent info for New York denizens. And it arrives at a time when subway ridership numbers […]

When a Rat Skeleton Falls through Your Ceiling

This is not a Halloween story, but may as well be. As reported yesterday, deaf and hearing-impaired tenants living at 174 Forsyth Street are demanding remedy for deplorable living conditions. Those affected allege years of neglect that led to extreme disrepair and lack of security, and are holding a press conference this morning to train […]