Google Street View of the Holmes Towers with the playground in question in the foreground
This past spring, the de Blasio administration revealed plans to lease “empty” NYCHA land–parking lots and grassy areas–for the creation of market-rate housing, which certainly ruffled the feathers of affordable housing advocates. Though the proposal hasn’t been set into motion city-wide, it is taking shape at one housing project on the Upper East Side, the Holmes Towers on 92nd to 93rd Streets and 1st to York Avenues. As the Daily News reports, NYCHA recently “described tenant support for the plan to let a developer build 300 units — half market rate, half affordable — where the Holmes playground now sits.” But this “tenant stakeholder committee” says they feel very differently.
Earlier this month, the stakeholder committee penned a letter to NYCHA chairwoman Shola Olatoye, in which they stated that the playground site was selected “amid widespread resistance from the community to a development that would take away the park from the children.”Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilman Ben Kallos have been working with residents of Holmes Towers to advocate for more community involvement, and they’ve asked the city to require the project to go through the standard ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Process) to study how these 300 apartments will affect traffic, schools, and infrastructure.
On its end, NYCHA looks at the development, along with a similar proposal at Wyckoff Gardens in Brooklyn, as a way to raise funds for much-needed repairs in the public housing projects, which have been estimated at a total of $16 billion (NYCHA was also operating at a $98 million deficit in 2015). Their stated goal over the next 10 years is to raise $300 to $600 million to be funneled back into 30 to 50 sites. And at Holmes, they’ve promised to relocate the playground to a yet-to-be-determined location.
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Neighborhoods : Upper East Side