Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects
The New York City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to replace a community garden in Little Italy with an affordable housing complex for seniors. The project, first introduced by Council Member Margaret Chin in 2012, will rise on the site of Elizabeth Street Garden, a quirky green space created in 1991 by Allan Reiver, who owns the gallery next to the garden. The complex, dubbed Haven Green, will include 123 affordable apartments and ground-floor retail. Originally, developers agreed to keep 8,000 square feet of public space at the site, but on Wednesday Chin said she reached an agreement to incorporate more open space at Haven Green through a courtyard next door.
The gallery is housed in a 19th-century firehouse, and later bakery, on Elizabeth Street. It has its own door to the garden next door
Shortly upon arriving in New York in the 1990s, Allan Reiver traveled to Coney Island with one goal in mind: find a shooting gallery. Reiver, who has always had a knack for finding art out of other people’s junk, bought one that same day from an older man who told him it had been boarded up since the 1930s when it became illegal to shoot live ammunition. Nearly 30 years later, the 10-foot high boardwalk game, still operational, sits in the back of the Elizabeth Street Gallery in Little Italy, where Reiver has housed unique artifacts and fine objects for nearly a decade.
Rare finds can also be found next to the gallery, scattered across a lush green space known as the Elizabeth Street Garden. Since 1991, Reiver has leased the land from the city, slowly transforming the lot with unique sculptures, columns, and benches, all plucked from estate sales. In 2012, the city revealed plans to replace the garden with a senior affordable housing complex, known as Haven Green, igniting a battle between garden advocates and affordable housing supporters. The City Council votes on the project Wednesday. Ahead of the decision, 6sqft toured Reiver’s gallery and the garden next door and spoke to him about building the green space and the plan to fight the Haven Green project in court.
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