In Coordinated Action, Opposition Files Lawsuit to Halt Elizabeth Street Garden Development

Posted on: March 7th, 2019 at 5:06 am by

Following months of legal threats, opponents of a plan to redevelop the Elizabeth Street Garden have filed twin lawsuits to stop it from happening.

The garden itself and the separate nonprofit devoted to its protection (Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden) filed the action against the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in Manhattan Supreme Court this week, alleging that the city’s environmental review process doesn’t take into account the impacts of losing this Little Italy green space. The goal is to subject the proposal to the more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before proceeding with the development.

“Respondents failed to take a hard look at relevant areas of environmental concern-specifically, Zoning, Open Space, Neighborhood Character, and Public Policy-with respect to the Proposed Project, and failed to recognize the adverse environmental impacts that may result from the Proposed Project,” the suit, filed by Friends of the Elizabeth Street Garden, which names Assembly members Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou as co-plaintiffs, states.

As previously reported, the Haven Green project aims to install 123 affordable studio 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 co-developer Habitat NYC. However, regarding the latter, the EAS notes this space as a “Community Facility,” yet later contradicts the description as “commercial office space” with “39 employees.”

Needless to say, the proposal has received sharp rebuke from across the community.

The dual suits also charge that the city evaluated Haven Green based on the wrong zoning—C6-2 instead of the Special Little Italy District—and says that the building height and other features would actually violate the current zoning here. In addition, the complaints rebuke the city’s designation of the garden as an Urban Development Action Area—a classification typically employed to revitalize blighted land.

“The city talks of preserving public open spaces, but it must act,” said Friends’ counsel Michael Gruen in a public statement. “The open public space within a half mile of the Garden, including the Garden, adds up to just 10 percent of what the city proclaims is the rock bottom need for a residential area.”

“The development team is aware of the lawsuits against the City and stands firmly behind the vision of Haven Green to bring deeply affordable, LGBTQ-friendly, senior housing to one of New York’s most gentrified and high opportunity neighborhoods,” a spokesman from developer Pennrose Properties told us. “As proven, responsible stewards of public land and community assets, the Haven Green development team partners support HPD in their use of City-owned land to create critical affordable housing for low-income seniors and public green space for the community.”

Margaret Chin, major player in making redevelopment happen, declined to comment, stating that she was not named in the lawsuit.

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