City Council’s Land Use Committee Votes in Favor of Haven Green

Posted on: June 12th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The Haven Green development in Little Italy is one step closer to reality. And by extension, so is the destruction of the 20,000 square-foot Elizabeth Street Garden atop which it will sit.

The four-member City Council Land Use committee yesterday unanimously approved the mixed-use project, which, if approved, is to offer 123 studio apartments of affordable senior housing. The next step is a vote on the floor of the full City Council on June 26, where the vote often breaks in favor of the “home” Councilmember. In this case, Margaret Chin, who originated the land deal in 2013.

The Hon. Adrienne Adams, Chair of the subcommittee, read the Letter of Intent which outlined potential revisions to the original Haven Green plan co-developed by Pennrose Properties, Habitat NYC, and RiseBoro. The conglomerate would work to merge the 6,700 square-feet of open space the development yields with the private courtyard of the adjacent LIRA building (Little Italy Restoration Apartments) at 21 Spring Street.

The other potential revision is extending the hours of operation of the proposed publicly-accessible open space from 9am-5pm to 12 hours a day (dawn to dusk). While the open times would likely ensure equitable usage of the open space, it remains unclear whether the agreement to conjoin the Haven Green open space with the LIRA courtyard or the extension of hours will be finalized prior to the full City Council vote at the end of the month.

As for whether the Parks Department will be involved as steward – this was touted during the City Council hearing in May – there was no update on that front at yesterday’s hearing.

(The city is prepared to sell the land for $1 and share in development costs. The garden itself is valued at some $44 million.)

Despite the revisions, there still remains a potential deal-breaker in this privatization of city-owned land. Dual lawsuits against the city brought by the two local nonprofits fighting in behalf of the garden. Both legal actions contest the legality of the city’s Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS). Attorneys argue that the EAS should have determined an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) was necessary. If actions are successful, the ULURP process would be rebooted to include an EIS, a more expansive analysis on how Haven Green impacts the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, garden advocates remain convinced that if Chin had worked with Community Board 2 to construct this housing on vacant city-owned land on Hudson Street, seniors would already be living in affordable apartments there, and the garden would be spared.

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