spura-essex crossing-nyc-untapped cities-001Aerial rendition of the proposed plan for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. (via NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr)

Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (or SPURA) is a small neighborhood at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge in Manhattan and is the borough’s largest piece of undeveloped land south of 96th Street, unused since 1967. The six-acre area has been the cause of much debate for repurposing over the last 50 years, but last week the City revealed the developers for the proposed plan — L&M Development Partners, BFC Partners, Taconic Investment Partners and Grand Street Settlement — who can pay the $180 million price tag and begin construction within 18 months.

The project, named Essex Crossing, will be designed by SHoP Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle and will be made up of 1.65 million square feet of affordable housing, commercial space, a new Essex Street Market, and new open space, with the potential for a school and other community space, including an Andy Warhol Museum.

The New York Times reports that it was important to include “permanent affordable housing” in the plans, which would specifically cater to those displaced in the 1967 demolition by giving priority to the largely Puerto Rican population that was relocated, as granted by this 1973 lawsuit. It would also take the neighborhood “into the future by creating a neighborhood hub with badly needed housing, small-scale retail and office space for tech companies and budding entrepreneurs.”

spura-essex crossing-nyc-untapped cities-002Rendition of the proposed plans for the Essex St. and Delancey St. intersection. (via NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr)

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure coming to a close in the coming months, it is important to note that not everything is set in stone for SPURA. Howard Jacob of the East River Housing Corporation notes: “The new mayor is going to want to put his own stamp on the project.” That being said, it’s a fully entitled, ULURP-approved project that has gone through the community approval process. Stalling for nearly half a century, plans for the neighborhood faced a lot of backlash for not allocating an abundance low-income housing. The current plans approved last week call for an even split of 50 percent affordable housing, and 50 percent market-rate housing.

Seward Park Urban Renewal Area will add to the glassy skyline that makes up Lower Manhattan. These renditions at Curbed NY highlight some of the proposed spaces in the design plans:

spura-essex crossing-nyc-untapped cities-003Plans for the Andy Warhol Museum. Rendering via Essex Crossing.

spura-essex crossing-nyc-untapped cities-004Rooftop urban farm and walkways. Rendering via Essex Crossing.

spura-essex crossing-nyc-untapped cities-005Aerial Rendering of Broome Street. Rendering via Essex Crossing.