Elizabeth Street Garden Threatened by Development Plan

NYCCGC supports Elizabeth Street Garden in its call for the City to rescind the RFP at the Elizabeth Street Garden. The City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), a move to replace the Elizabeth Street Garden with housing. Volunteer gardeners with support from residents, business owners, and elected officials have campaigned to secure the future of the SoHo greenspace, located between Prince and Spring Streets. Proponents of the garden rallied on Wednesday to declare support for its preservation under the Parks Department and call on the City to rescind the Request for Proposals.

Advocates in support of the garden scored a victory in March when the Lower Manhattan Development Council declined to provide funds for development on the site. The City has proceeded, nonetheless, with the plan to build over the Elizabeth Street Garden in an area lacking open space.

The RFP drafters acknowledged “a variety of views about the best uses for the land,” reflecting the responses of the gardeners and neighbors toward the plan. The RFP requires just 30 years of affordability and 5,000 square feet of open space, one-quarter of the garden’s footprint. HPD does not specify a minimum number of housing units to be built making the housing gains immeasurable against the known losses of the garden’s closure.

“Despite overwhelming opposition, the City and Councilwoman Chin are relentless in attempting to remove this site from the care of locals,” said Aziz Dehkan, NYCCGC Executive Director. The RFP threatens the future of a community resource in exchange for an unknown number of units at unknown rent levels for a limited time only. Elizabeth Street is the simply the wrong location if the true goal is to maximize the number of seniors in affordable units.”

The campaign to save Elizabeth Street Garden has attempted to protect the outdoor community center and to guide the City in satisfying its housing need. Advocates proposed a substantially larger, city-owned lot on Hudson Street which can accommodate many times more units while preserving the garden in place. The RFP asks applicants to “maximize the amount of public open space without losing affordable housing units for seniors.” Without adequate explanation, the City continues to disregard a superior site in Community Board 2 that would create more senior housing and fully resolve the garden conflict.

We encourage all advocates for Elizabeth Street Garden to join us at the RFP pre-submission conference. The meeting will be hosted by HPD on Thursday, October 6th at 10am at 100 Gold Street, Room 8F-14, Manhattan.