After fifty long years of hemming and hawing, the City Council has finally approved the SPURA redevelopment plan for the Lower East Side. Manhattan won’t be getting a new ski slope-covered mega mall, but the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Plan will transform the disused Lower East Side area into housing and retail shops. With the plan finally in place, we can only hope that big box retailers are kept out, keeping the unique spirit of the Lower East Side alive.
Mayor Bloomberg’s office announced the long awaited decision yesterday. Over 1.65 million square feet of run-down parking lots line Delancey Street along the entryway to the Williamsburg Bridge and the new SPURA plan will transform this disused and totally underdeveloped space into affordable housing for low and medium income families and senior citizens. One thousand units will be built and of those, 500 will be permanent affordable housing.
Housing will take up 60 percent of the space with retail making up the additional 40 percent. There will also be an area reserved for a new school, and 15,000 square feet will be transformed into permanent public green space. The Essex Street Market will have the option for a new, bigger home and current vendors will be protected.
When the plan finally comes into play, it will create 5,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs. Although the plan has finally been approved, a design has not been decided on, and the city is currently awaiting design proposals from architects and urban planners.