City Demands Removal of Statues from Elizabeth Street Garden
Last week, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development sent a notice to the stewards of the Elizabeth Street Garden to remove the longstanding statues from the city-owned plot. All of them.
It’s the latest chapter in a years-long drama pitting neighborhood activists against city plans to redevelop the site as affordable housing.
The eponymous Elizabeth Street Garden community organization sent a press release on Friday announcing the HPD notice. The demand arrives before the official determination from the city about whether the project can move forward.
As previously reported, the garden may soon be bulldozed to pave way for Haven Green, an affordable housing complex for seniors. That’s what they say, at least. The proposed building – developed by Pennrose Properties and Habitat for Humanity NYC – will rise seven stories and carry 123 apartments measuring roughly 400 square-feet each. There is also luxury ground floor retail, and 11,200 square-feet of below-market-rate office space reserved for Habitat NYC.
In addition, the plan calls for the inclusion of 7,600 square-feet of privately owned publicly-accessible space (aka POPS).
The collection of statues and monuments belongs to Allan Reiver, who moved to the block in 1989. At the time, he obtained approval from Community Board 2 to clean up the garbage-strewn lot and add sculptures found at estates. Some he sold, but it was his way of beautifying the block. Reiver’s maintained a lease on the parcel since 1991.
And now, the city appears hell-bent on foisting Haven Green on Little Italy. For the last few years, Mayor de Blasio, Councilmember Margaret Chin, and HPD have continuously ignored the viable alternate site on the west side (Hudson Street) that could potentially accommodate five times the amount of affordable housing without destroying the Little Italy garden.
Meanwhile, Garden advocates again rallied yesterday afternoon to speak out against the statuary removal and potential destruction of the open space.
“We need spaces like this. This choice that the City government is asking people to make is a false choice” –@BrianKavanaghNY on pitting green spaces against affordable housing. #SaveESG (2/12) pic.twitter.com/syFoxKCdjY
— Joseph Reiver (@ESGEDNYC) October 29, 2018