City Council Approves Seward Park Project in 48 to 0 Vote
By Nora Bosworth The Seward Park Redevelopment Project (SPURA) was approved on Thursday in a unanimous decision, to the delight of Community Board members, Council members, and many residents of the Lower East Side. The project will convert 1.65 million square feet of vacant city land into a space with commercial and community facilities, and 1,000 housing units, 500 of which will be permanent, affordable housing. Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who spearheaded the modification of the City Planning Commission's original proposal, said, "Today's vote to approve development of the SPURA site is truly history in the making." The project has many provisions that would benefit local and low-income families. In the allocated commercial space, local business and organizations will be given preference. The project's hiring goals are in line with this stipulation, calling for at least 50% of the employees to be from the local community, and earning below 200% of the poverty level. The city will safeguard 15,000 square feet of the entire area until 2023, for a potential public school. The Essex City Market may also find a new home through this project, though the proposal states that if the market relocates, the city will cover all reasonable moving costs, and charge the same rent as the vendors pay at the original site. "The Lower East Side community, along with its elected officials, have been working tirelessly toward developing a balanced development plan for SPURA," said Gigi Li, the Chair of Community Board 3. "[Today] proves that when a variety of stakeholders work together and hold each other accountable, anything is possible."
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