Residents Unite Against Developer Plans to Swap Park for Parking on LES Waterfront

Posted on: May 17th, 2022 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Roger Bultot

Residents on the Lower East Side waterfront may soon lose more publicly accessible outdoor space. The developer of a new super-tall plans to reduce a children’s playground to a parking lot.

As excavation work commences on Chetrit Group’s 70-story, twin-towered development at 265 South Street, tenants in the adjacent building – Lands End II – are spearheading protests against plans to bulldoze nearby Rutgers Park in favor of “temporary parking.”

We’re told that Related Companies which purchased the Section 8 housing complex two years ago for $438 million, also owns the pocket park. Chetrit, which separately acquired the parking lot last fall, is reportedly leasing the spot to help accommodate parking until the underground garage at 265 South is completed. That could take at least four or five years.

Photo: Roger Bultot

The Lands End II tenants association, and other housing advocates, allege that the developers have not outlined any mitigations for the loss of a children’s playground and full-sized basketball court for such an extended time.

And even though the parking scheme is billed as “temporary,” neighbors allege otherwise. The plan calls for the full removal of all playground equipment, new curb cuts, a full time attended booth, and an assemblage of parking lot furniture.

It’s also worth noting that the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Two Bridges LSRD does not examine such a conversion of Rutgers Park (Site 5). In fact, the FEIS says states: “On Site 5, the existing private Rutgers Slip Open Space would be enlarged and reconstructed, and dedicated as publicly accessible open space.”

Uniting in protest are the Lands End II tenants association and residents in the immediate vicinity. A rally is planned for noontime today outside Rutgers Park. Additional concerns raised include displacement, pollution, and potential exposure to toxic chemicals from brown field cleanup beneath the development parcels (old gas station site).

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