Efforts to raise money for the Delancey Underground–also known as the Low Line–have taken off, thanks to private fundraising on the website Kickstarter.com. Back in September, when we talked to the founders of the project, ex-NASA scientist James Ramsey and RAAD partner Dan Barasch, they had low expectations about raising any money from the city.
It’s predecessor, the West Side High Line, had gotten some public money, but was built in a different era, Mr. Ramsey told us. “The recession hadn’t hit, and it was right after 9/11, when the city was looking to put money in an urban renewal project.”
Their mission, as stated on their fundraising page:
We want to transform an abandoned trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of Manhattan into the world’s first underground park. It will be a new kind of public space, using solar technology for natural illumination, and cutting edge design to capture and highlight a very special industrial space.
In order to develop their plans for underground green space–which would require “tens of millions” of dollars– alive, the group has started a Kickstarter.com page to raise money from private donors. The surprising part might be how well its doing. In little over 24 hours, the LowLine has already received $23,678 in pledges. By Apr 6th, the group must raise another $76,322 in donations in order to hit its $100,000 goal.
Even with $100k in their pockets, the RAAD group will still face a bevy of hurdles, financial and otherwise, before they can begin turning the old Williamsburg trolly terminal into an underground paradise. The local community board will obviously play a huge part, as C.B.3 has spent decades negotiating the above-ground space between SPURA (Seward Park Urban Renewal Area) project, and the people still living in the Lower East Side’s tenement buildings.
But, as RAAD’s team was quick to remind us, the High Line also received pushback from club owners and city planners, and got most of its money made in private donations.
It’s taken several months to get off the ground, but at least this KickStarter campaign is a good first step to proving that there is at least some interest–and money–behind the Low Line.