The Flawed Plan to Fill the Lower East Side's 'Black Hole'

David Bergman argues why plans recently approved by New York's Community Board 3 and City Planning Commission for the development of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) are a step backwards for the area.
October 1, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The vacant, and dispiriting site on the south side of Delancey Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side described by Bergman as a "black hole" has been aching for some form of redevelopment for decades. Now, as a plan for redevelopment proposed by the site's owner, the city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC), awaits final hearings in front of the City Council, after  preliminary approval from the community board and planning commission, Bergman argues there is one final opportunity to correct its two crucial failings.

Although the plan put forth by the EDC succeeds in bringing much needed affordable housing to the area, outdated approaches to parking and retail space threaten the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood. Bergman takes issue with the plan's desire to provide additional parking spaces beyond what current zoning allows and its inclusion of big-box retail space. 

"[The EDC's] vision for filling the LES' black hole, in its bland suggested form and massing, and with its anti-urban emphasis on parking, has nothing to do with the nieghborhood [sic]," contends Bergman. "It defies current precepts of urban design and place-making."


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Published on Thursday, September 27, 2012 in The Architect's Newspaper
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