11 Things You Need to Know about the Lowline’s $83M Underground Park

Posted on: September 23rd, 2016 at 9:28 am by

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Entrance to the Lowline on Delancey St.

City officials announced their full support of the $83 million Lowline project back in July, some five years after its conception. The backing came as the bureacracy created a dog-and-pony show to try and elicit proposals for the 60,000 square-foot vacant trolley terminal beneath Delancey Street. The Lowline was the only proposal (naturally), and now their official plans are finally public. The 154-page document was made public earlier this week, offering a glimpse of the year 2021 on the Lower East Side.

The city approval, vis-a-vis the Economic Development Corporation, remains “conditional,” as previously reported. In order to fully comply, the Lowline non-profit agreed to create a community engagement committee, raising $10 million within the next year, and developing blueprints within the same timeframe.

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If all conditions are met, and approval is granted, the lease on the space would be signed in the fall of 2018, and ground-break some two years later.

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At the Lowline Lab

Here are some nuts and bolts components of the Lowline public-ish park.

  • The Lowline park will cost $83 million. Much of that outlay will pay for sound-proofing the park from the adjacent J/M/Z subway station, restoring historic trolley terminal elements, developing the sunlight harvesting system, and adding utilities like electricity and plumbing.
  • Timeline for opening is ambitious – in 2021.
  • Operating hours are 6am to 9pm, five days a week. It’s open to the public free of charge. There will be “special events” hosted to generate additional funds for the space.
  • There will be a cafe/bar … because saturation of the Lower East Side isn’t enough already.
  • Entry to the Lowline is via “grand staircase” near the Delancey Plaza just off Norfolk Street. The open area at bottom will host performances and public events. There is an additional “side entrance” off Clinton Street.
  • There will be a 500 square-foot gift shop, presumably to sell Lowline merch.
  • Light for the Lowline is harvested and reflected by “clusters of solar concentrators” along Delancey Street, and on the roof of site 4 of Essex Crossing. This street furniture may double as weather canopies, charging stations, WiFi kiosks, or bike storage.
  • Essex Crossing and the Lowline are separate entities, but construction will be coordinated between the two undertakings. This will reportedly help the park developers save on costs.
  • Funding. Team Lowline is banking on raising $35 million in private funding, $30 million in public funding that includes $22 million from the city, $5 million from the state, $3 million from federal agencies, and $18 million in New Market Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits.
  • The nonprofit expects that 85% of its operating budget will come from private sphere, while the rest is gained from revenue related to sponsored events. (Underground drinking … WOOOOOOOO!)
  • Based on current attendance numbers at the Lowline Lab, they project around one million visitors annually, with the potential of generating $14 million for local businesses.

The equation should be Lowline + Essex Crossing = hyper-gentrification.

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