The Future of the Lower East Sides SPURA Revealed

After about a half-century of attempts and failures to remake the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, the city has finally made some decisions about the fate of Manhattan’s largest swath of undeveloped land south of 96th Street. The news broke last night that developers L&M Development Partners, BFC Partners, Taconic Investment Partners, and Grand Street Settlement won their bid for the site, and the resulting project, called Essex Crossing, will be designed by SHoP and Beyer Blinder Belle. Both firms are big names with plenty of experience in the city, Beyer Blinder Belle in preservation and restoration and SHoP on the often modern and wacky end of things. Combine their approaches and we get the renderings above, from the mayor’s Flickr page. Glassy and mostly straightforward, with no ski mountains but, it must be said, some excellent scalies.

The site will include retail, restaurants, a movie theater, parks, office space, and an Andy Warhol Museum. (We’re still puzzling over that one.) And, of course, apartments? a full 1,000 of them, half of which will go to low- and middle-income families, and with first dibs to families displaced from the site when it was first razed. Here’s a little bit more about the project from the mayor’s official press release:

In addition, the project, to be called Essex Crossing, includes a 15,000-square-foot open space, a new and expanded Essex Street Market, a dual-generation school operated by the Educational Alliance, a community center run by Grand Street Settlement, a rooftop urban farm, the Andy Warhol Museum, 250,000 square feet of office space and a diverse mix of retail space. Seward Park will also become a hub of small-business incubation, with micro-retail spaces and creative and tech co-working and incubator space.

Though the size was razed with the intention of clearing it for urban renewal, the financing fell through, and the site has languished through several attempts to move forward with the project, including one by the LeFrak Organization in the 1980s and another by the city in 2003.

We’ll update as more details about the Essex Crossing plan become available. In the meantime, the floor is open.

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