On Tuesday morning, City Council’s Zoning and Franchises subcommittee heard from community members and elected officials about controversial landlord Samy Mahfar's request for a commercial overlay on East Houston Street and parts of the Lower East Side.
First, a quickie recap of what has transpired through the years at 255 E. Houston St. between Suffolk and Norfolk...
No. 255 previously housed the day-care center Action For Progress. They were displaced in the spring of 2010 when construction next door at 179 Suffolk St. destabilized the building.
Last summer, Mahfar, the property's new owner, filed plans for a 10-story residential complex with 53 residences and 4,600 square feet for community facilities.
However, as BoweryBoogie first reported in late February, Mahfar is seeking a commercial overlay for the parcel, with 7,240 square-feet for commercial use ... while the project grew to a 13-story building with 63 units that looks like...
In May, CB3 approved a resolution opposing the change. City Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer have also opposed the commercial overlay. Still, the de Blasio-controlled City Planning Commission approved the application on July 13.
Now to Tuesday's City Council meeting. Both the Lo-Down and DNAinfo attended and covered what transpired.
Per the Lo-Down:
The developer argues that it makes little sense to restrict ground floor uses along a thoroughfare that already features many different kinds of shops and food/nightlife establishments. But Mendez said there’s no question the community wanted street-level spaces along this part of East Houston Street to be reserved for community facilities. “There is by no means,” said Mendez, “a shortage of places to eat and drink in my neighborhood. Yet facilities meant to provide services for people living in the area have become harder and harder to find.”
Mahfar's lawyer reportedly said repeated efforts to find a tenant failed. "There is no demand for a community facility on East Houston Street."
However, CB3 district manager Susan Stetzer disagreed. Per DNAinfo:
Stetzer ...provided written testimonies from the operators of several not-for-profit community groups —The Educational Alliance, Henry Street Settlement and University Settlement — stating the groups had never been contacted regarding the space and would be interested in renting it as a facility.
The subcommittee did not reach a decision on Tuesday. There's no word yet when that might occur.
Previously on EV Grieve:
Next for 255 E. Houston St.: Community facility/school/medical building?
10-story building now in the works for 255 E. Houston St.