Will the 13th try be the charm at the SPURA?
After five decades, the latest plan for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area has been agreed upon, according to The Times. After much debate, a plan that sets half of the thousand or so planned apartments aside for affordable housing, as opposed to 70 percent of them, was decided upon.
On Monday, The Observer suggested there was a fight over the project and how affordable it should be. A local reader wrote in to correct us about the civility of the discussions, a rarity for the city’s community boards, those laboratories of democracy:
The “fight” about SPURA is a civic discussion. The people who believe philosophically that there should be no affordable housing on the site either silenced themselves or spoke in favor of the guidelines. The issue is whether to seek 50 percent affordable housing or 70 percent- and that issue is under civil and orderly debate.
I think if the community keeps working together and airing differences in a spirit of respect and patience, then what develops will be more vibrant, contain more affordable housing, and contribute more to property values than the empty lots that are there now.
Perhaps we are simply too cynical of the land-use review process, in which the project will now spend more than a year being bartered over and reshaped. Given the parameters of the proposal, for such an expensive undertaking on such a prime piece of Manhattan real estate, it all seems bound to be torn apart and watered down (see: Atlantic Yards, the Williamsburg rezoning, Hudson Yards, Willets Point…). Still, let’s hold out hope.
For the time being, the current plan has the support of local pols, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senator Daniel Squadron, according to The Times, both of whom represent the area. The all powerful speaker said in a statement, “The final guidelines that were approved by the committee tonight strike an appropriate balance between the needs and concerns of all stakeholders and will result in a development that will ensure our neighborhood continues to thrive.”
Or, as we like to say at our Lower East Side seder every spring: “Next year in SPURA!”