Senior housing complex at Elizabeth Street Garden site gets borough president approval

Posted On Wed, February 27, 2019 By

Posted On Wed, February 27, 2019 By In affordable housing, New Developments, Nolita

Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects

Update 3/6/19: The Elizabeth Street Garden (ESG) and the garden’s creator Allan Reiver filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the city and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to challenge the development of Haven Green. 

The plan to build an affordable senior housing development at the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden in Nolita got a much-needed push forward on Tuesday after receiving approval from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. In December 2017, the city revealed plans for Haven Green, a passive house with units reserved for seniors earning between roughly $20,000 and $40,000 to be built on the site of the park. Elizabeth Street Garden advocates are fighting the city’s plan to demolish the one acre of green space to make way for affordable housing and are taking legal action to save the park.

Haven Green, Curtis + Ginsberg, Elizabeth Street Garden, senior housing Nolita
Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects

Haven Green would include 123 units of deeply affordable apartments set aside for low-income seniors, with 37 of them designated for formerly homeless seniors. The seven-story building will be built to passive house standards, designed to reduce carbon emissions. The project also calls for 8,000 square feet of open space and a new headquarters for the Habitat for Humanity New York City.

Although Community Board 2 voted against the project last month, Brewer has recommended the application as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), but with conditions. These include calls for 30 percent more open space than currently proposed, permanent affordability for all housing units, a community facility space, and an agreement for the city to manage the new open space.

In her recommendation, Brewer said solutions are needed that address both the need for accessible open space and affordable housing. “The Elizabeth Street Garden, in the five years since the proposed development was announced, has grown to become a cherished community resource as an accessible open green space,” Brewer wrote.

“However, there is a growing need for affordable housing throughout the city and especially within Community Board 2, which has only seen 93 units of affordable housing built since 2014.”

Groups against the development, including Elizabeth Street Garden and the Friends of the Elizabeth Street Garden, have proposed an alternative site for Haven Green, a city-owned lot at Hudson and Clarkson Streets. But Brewer dismissed the idea in her recommendation.

“Unfortunately, our housing crisis and growing senior population do not allow for an either/or scenario: we must build permanently affordable housing wherever feasible while also maximizing open space on these sites for additional public benefit.”

The next steps in the ULURP project include a review by the City Planning Commission within 60 days, followed by the City Council, and lastly the mayor. The two Elizabeth Street Garden advocate groups plan on coordinating their legal efforts to stop the development.

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