Lower East Side residents and city officials have spent more than four decades sparring over what should go on five fallow city-owned lots, totaling seven acres, just south of Delancey Street near the Williamsburg Bridge. But courtesy of a 2008 rezoning, a few determined community leaders and many compromises, it looks as though the area will finally be transformed into a huge complex with housing, as well as retail and office space. It would be the largest redevelopment project on underutilized city-owned land south of 96th Street.
The proposal for what is known as the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project is likely to pass its first hurdle May 22, when Community Board 3 is expected to give the plan its overwhelming approval.
If all goes well, the five surface parking lots will be turned into a 1.65 million-square-foot mixed-use development comprised of 40% commercial and 60% residential units, with roughly 900 apartments, half of which will be affordable. It is expected to be approved by the necessary city officials and the City Council by this fall. The city would then likely seek a developer early next year. Only then can the site begin to catch up with the area north of Delancey Street, which in recent years has blossomed with the arrival of trendy shops and restaurants, hip bars and even a luxury condo tower called Blue.