City Council OKs LES Redevelopment Project

The City Council has unanimously approved a mixed-used redevelopment project in the Seward Park area of the Lower East Side.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the project will transform nine mostly vacant lots into 1.65 million square feet of commercial retail and housing. The project, which has been in the works for five decades, would have 1,000 housing units — half of which would be affordable housing, and 30 percent of which will be reserved for people making less than $40,000 a year.

"Fifty percent permanent, permanent, permanent affordable housing is an enormous accomplishment," Quinn said.

But Joanne Lum, with the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, says that's too little. Her group wants all of the housing to be affordable. “This it outrageous," she said, "in a community where 50 percent of the people make $38,000 a year or less...where sectors of this population are on fixed-income, and have a median income of $20,000 or $30,000.”

Lum said 8,000 people have signed petitions opposing the plan.

There is no developer attached to the project. The city will be putting out a request for proposals in the coming weeks.

One major draw currently in the area, the indoor Essex Street Market, will remain but may be relocated, according to the plans for the project.