City shows Eliz. St. Garden final project plan to C.B. 2

C.B. 2 committee chairperson David Gruber, center, did not look pleased at the presentation of the strongly opposed Haven Green plan for the Elizabeth St. Garden with Eunice Suh, H.P.D. assistant commissioner of planning and predevelopment, left, and Leila Bozorg, H.P.D. deputy commissioner for neighborhood strategies. Photo by Sydney Pereira

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | Haven Green, the affordable housing project slated for the Elizabeth St. Garden site, is now starting to make its way through the formal public review process.

Last week, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development presented the plans to Community Board 2’s Elizabeth St. Garden Committee for the building. The design calls for 123 units for low-income and formerly homeless seniors, common space and an exterior terrace for residents, and a community room within office space for Habitat for Humanity NYC. Habitat is partnering with Pennrose Properties and RiseBoro Community Partnership to develop on the site. The site will include a 6,600-square-foot garden and 2,000-square-foot “breezeway” that would connect Elizabeth St. to a remnant of the open space that would be preserved.

But some wanted more details on an Environmental Assessment Statement that was released last month when the Department of City Planning certified the project to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP.

“We’re all hungry for hard facts and we’re not getting it,” said David Gruber, the C.B. 2 committee chairperson.

The breakdown of units at Haven Green would include 37 units for formerly homeless seniors with supportive services provided by RiseBoro. In addition, there would be 35 units renting for $401 per month, 25 units renting for $558, and 26 units renting for $871. Income qualifications for the units not set aside for formerly homeless individuals are expected to range from $18,774 to $37,548, according to project representatives.

The one-bedroom units are expected to be 375 square feet with kitchenettes, which Gruber criticized as being “like elaborate prison cells.”

Dylan Salmons, senior developer at Pennrose, countered, “We felt it responsible [for] us to provide as many units as we could. … It’s a robust project and seniors deserve it.”

After a total of four C.B. 2 committees discuss the project in the coming weeks, Gruber’s committee will review the project on Jan. 14, he said. The full board will vote on its final recommendation by the end of January as part of the ULURP process.

Opponents have pressed the city to explain why it won’t “swap” the garden site for the project with an empty, city-owned lot at Hudson St. Two nonprofit groups are expected to sue the city in hopes of saving the garden, whose space would be cut by more than half if Haven Green were built on the Little Italy site.

Others at the meeting supported the low-income senior and L.G.B.T.-friendly housing project, citing the need to house thousands of homeless.

“If not here, where are you for affordable housing?” said Kyle Dontoh, a Columbia University graduate student and member of Open New York, an advocacy group with a “yes in my backyard” approach to build more housing. “At the very minimum,” he said, “we need to take a stand here and say that we need to do this.”

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