City will replace Nolita’s Elizabeth Street Garden with 121 affordable apartments for seniors

December 8, 2017

Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects

After years of public battles between open space advocates and public officials, the city announced on Friday that it will create an affordable senior housing development at the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden in Nolita. Dubbed Haven Green, the project will be an energy-efficient passive house, with units reserved for seniors earning between $20,040 and $40,080, as well as formerly homeless seniors. According to the Daily News, the project calls for 121 deeply affordable units with 7,600 square feet of public open space in a new garden. Developed by Pennrose Properties, Habitat for Humanity New York City, and RiseBoro Community Partnerships, Haven Green will use 60 to 70 percent less energy than a standard building of its kind and will be designed to manage and reuse stormwater through permeable surfaces.

Photo courtesy of Friends of the Elizabeth Street Garden

Located between Prince and Spring Streets, the Elizabeth Street Garden stretches roughly one acre in an unexpected spot in Lower Manhattan. Decorated with lots of plants, neoclassical columns, and lion statues, the community garden is run completely by volunteers. Since 2012, advocates and volunteers, including a group called Elizabeth Street Garden, have protested the city’s efforts to demolish the site to make way for affordable housing.

In 2016, the city issued a request for proposal from developers, with support from Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area, and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who aims to meet his recently revised Housing New York plan of 300,000 affordable homes by 2022. New York City’s seniors face a severe shortage of housing and many sit on waitlists for affordable apartments. “We’re finally talking about getting housing for our most vulnerable and our needy seniors,” Chin told the Daily News.

The project does propose keeping a publicly accessible green space but is smaller than the original site, measuring a little over 7,600 square feet. The design calls for passive spaces, sculptures and art pieces, lawns, diverse plantings, space for gardening and seating. According to a press release from NYC’s Housing Preservation and Development, “The new space will maintain flexibility and be further developed by the community through an upcoming participatory design process.”

Residents at Haven Green will have access to a library, computer lab, and roof terrace. Plus, the development will serve as Habitat NYC’s new headquarters, providing credit counseling and education services to both residents of the building and community members. SAGE, a group that advocates for LGBT seniors, will have offices on the main floor to provide care and direct access to its services.

In a statement, Commissioner of HPD, Maria Torres-Springer said, “The selected development proposal strikes a balance between the desperate need for affordable senior housing and dedicated public open space, making this a win-win for the neighborhood.”

Elizabeth Street Garden said they might consider legal action to preserve the park. “We urge the public not to be deceived by the fancy developer renderings and to see the truth of the matter; that the administration, the Mayor and Councilmember Margaret Chin have continuously ignored our Community’s outcry,” the group said in a statement Friday.

The Haven Green project still requires approval from the city’s Land Use Review Procedure. Because Chin approves the plan and represents the district, the housing plan will likely pass.

[Via NYDN]


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  1. C

    As much as I highly value gardens and open space, I value the comfort of displaced and otherwise struggling people more. This project could have swallowed up the entire garden (and thus housed MORE seniors in a building with a larger footprint), so one should be thankful that any garden at all remains.

  2. F

    This project has just as good as swallowed up the whole garden; it’s a travesty—but not surprising—that the city chose to destroy this garden rather than build on larger available lots.