Decide Retains Nolita Senior Housing Undertaking On Ice


From left: Joseph Riever and Christopher Marte (Elizabeth Street Garden, New York City Campaign Finance Board)

It’s been 10 years since then-City Council member Margaret Chin persuaded town to raze a modest group backyard in Nolita and substitute it with a 123-unit, low-income house complicated for seniors, together with ground-floor retail and a group open area.

But regardless of metropolis approval and a developer that’s able to construct, the backyard endures.

The story begins in 1991, when town leased the empty parcel between Prince and Spring streets to native gallerist Allan Reiver for $4,000 monthly. Reiver lived and labored within the space, so he began storing bigger sculptures within the inexperienced area and shortly moved his gallery into the constructing abutting the backyard.

While open to the general public, passersby may solely entry the backyard by means of Reiver’s vintage store, turning him into, because the New York Times described it, a “cantankerous guardsman” of the downtown oasis.

As town pushed to create extra reasonably priced housing for seniors, Chin recognized the park as a possible growth web site. After a public request for proposals, town selected Green Haven, a mission pitched by developer Pennrose along side Habitat for Humanity and different nonprofit teams. But some locals, led by Reiver, didn’t need the backyard celebration to finish.

Reiver fashioned a nonprofit to handle and symbolize the backyard, and in 2019 it sued the city to cease the reasonably priced housing growth. He even wooed Norman Siegel, a civil rights legal professional and former government director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, to symbolize him. Both sides made their arguments, and by December 2020, the ball was within the court docket’s court docket. Everyone waited.

They’re nonetheless ready.

Reiver died final May, however his son, Joseph, has taken up the trigger. In September, brokers from town’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development served the nonprofit with an eviction discover. Siegel, the backyard group’s legal professional, referred to as his counterpart on the metropolis to demand solutions.

“Something very chaotic happened this afternoon,” Siegel stated, based on a transcript filed in court docket. “What’s the basis of the eviction? I just can’t think of any at this point, other than maybe retaliation because of the lawsuit, which would totally be improper.”

In October, town terminated the nonprofit’s lease on the backyard. Joseph Reiver referred to as the eviction an “attempt to circumvent the case” and stated he deliberate to problem the discover.

Around the identical time, Chin closed off one of many principal counterarguments to the redevelopment by tucking a deal to carry 100 reasonably priced models to a city-owned lot at 388 Hudson Street into the rezoning of Soho and Noho. Reiver and his allies had touted the Hudson Street lot in its place web site for the senior residing facility, however confronted with the choice of bringing reasonably priced housing to each parcels, they had been left with little ethical excessive floor.

Since then, Chin has been changed on the council by Christopher Marte, who stated in a candidate questionnaire issued by the backyard nonprofit that he was a donor to its authorized combat and would “be ready from day one to save Elizabeth Street Garden.”

Marte didn’t reply to a request for remark, however advised the nonprofit that he would attempt to forestall the redevelopment by suing town for violating the Special Little Italy District zoning decision.

“The housing crisis is not going to be solved by destroying a community garden,” Marte wrote.

Still, the case stays unresolved. Both sides say they’re ready for the choose to make a name, however don’t know when to count on it. In the meantime, it will be subsequent to unattainable for the builders to shut on financing with out proof that the court docket case has been dismissed, additional delaying the mission and growing its prices.

In an October letter to the choose, Kenneth Fisher, an legal professional for Pennrose, wrote that the delays have brought on complications for the developer and delayed sorely wanted housing. It’s been 30 months because the council authorised the plan, and 13 months because the court docket completed two days of arguments.

“The last year of living under the specter of the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the pressing need for housing like that proposed in the development at issue,” he wrote.

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