Seward Park Urban Renewal Area
The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) covers five vacant plots of land owned by New York City on Manhattan's Lower East Side, acquired as part of a 1965 urban renewal plan, near Delancey and Grand Streets. These sites were originally part of the broader Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, a federal program designed to tear down several tenements to develop low-income housing. Some of the original SPURA property was developed, but five remain vacant to this day.
SPURA remains the largest tract of undeveloped New York City-owned land in Manhattan south of 96th Street. Deciding what the “appropriate redevelopment” of SPURA would be has stalled the process and kept it undeveloped.
The competing forces within the neighborhood have been debating whether SPURA should be used to develop affordable housing within Manhattan Community Board 3, whether some mixed use – low and middle income as well as commercial – or all large commercial retail should be created. This debate is often waged in the community halls of local public school auditoriums and other city meeting places, in newspaper columns, at coop board meetings, and at private strategy sessions in individual homes.
In January and February 2011, the local community board took the issue of SPURA's development up and came to a community consensus that the area will be built to accommodate mixed use of low income housing, commercial properties/retail spaces and market value homes. The Board, community and city planners and public officials will finalize the plans for development, which is expected to begin within 2011 and completed in stages over a five-year period.
On October 11, 2012, the New York City Council approved the SPURA project in a unanimous vote. The project is expected to create 1,000 housing units, 1,000 permanent jobs and 5,000 construction jobs. The project will see built a 60/40 mix of residential and commercial space; creates 500 units of permanently affordable housing for low-, moderate-, and middle-income households, and senior housing; and it allocates 15,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space. It also allows for the expansion and relocation of the Essex Street Market to a new site, which is suited to double the number of small businesses currently operating at the market.
- Kurutz, Steve (November 30, 2003). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: LOWER EAST SIDE; A Plan for Five Vacant Lots Gets Plenty of Vacant Stares". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
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- Oser, Alan S. (July 8, 1990). "Perspectives: Changeover in the Housing Agency; Putting a Dinkins Imprint on a Koch Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- Sussman, Lesley (March 9–15, 2011). "SPURA design will try to ‘maximize light and air’". The Downtown Express. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
- "Seward Park". New York City Economic Development Corporation.
- Dillon, Kit (10/12/2012). "The SPURA has landed". New York Observer. Retrieved 18 October 2012.