NYC Replaces a Parking Crater With Parking-Free Housing and Retail

One of Manhattan’s few remaining parking craters is going to be filled in with housing and retail — all without any car storage, despite the city government’s belief that the site called for up to 500 parking spots. Call it “Parking Sanity.”

The project, called Essex Crossing, is on the Lower East Side. It replaces surface lots formerly known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, which were cleared decades ago and formed a parking crater engulfing multiple city blocks. The development will add 1,000 apartments (including 500 subsidized units), park space, a grocery store, a public market, and other retail.

Earlier this year, the developers decided to drop parking from the project entirely, even though the city pushed for up to 500 parking spaces — above and beyond the parking maximums that would normally be allowed under the zoning code.

The city, which initiated the project before selecting the developer, saw off-street parking as an elixir to help the project go down smoothly with the neighborhood. But it was not economical to build that much parking, and the developer eventually chose to eliminate parking entirely because site limitations would have placed the garage in a problematic location.

Streetsblog and Streetfilms recently sat down with Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area. Chin has advocated for the city to replace parking garages with affordable housing in her district, and she thinks things will be just fine without parking in the new development. As she says, people have plenty of other options for getting around.

Construction on the first phase of the development is set to begin this summer.

  • 1,000 apartments isn’t very much.

  • With no parking? Huge!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Yes, that’s huge. In particular, since the developers seem to have changed sides.

    I hope someone will go out and collect some data on traffic conditions and parking difficulty in the area before its built. And repeat it afterward.

    My prediction on the parking difficulty? Before: kvetch. After: kvetch. Might make a good Streetfilm.

    Hopefully they’ll have some bicycle parking and room for a few Zipcars or equivalent.

  • AlexWithAK

    For one development?? That’s a ton for one development.

  • HamTech87

    They should name it “Hipster” Crossing, because that’s where it is for transit and bicycles. It straddles subway lines heading to Williamsburg and Bushwick (JMZ) with young hipsters, and FiDi (JMZ) and Greenwich Village and Park Slope (F) with old hipsters. Then add all the bike lanes connecting it to Williamsburg, East Village, Soho, etc. These apts will see huge demand without parking.

  • HamTech87

    I agree. Would have been nice to see taller buildings with a school.

  • belowgrand

    Regarding a school, the plan leaves space for a school at the corner of Grand and Suffolk. It is up to the School Construction Authority to decide when/if to use it.

  • tomg63

    Completely agree. For a location on top of two transit lines and near two major bridges, they should be building 50 story buildings and have many more apartments. I guess 1,000 apartments is better than having it be parking lots for another 30 years.

  • Kevin Love

    There is lots of parking. Just not for cars.

  • douglasawillinger

    It should be taller buildings with parking for automobiles and storage units- the Streetsblog agenda is about maximizing developer profits and for creating cities with a less diverse population. Marc Gordon ought to be ashamed of himself!

  • douglasawillinger

    That is also the approach to an underground LMX- the feds should put a stop to this project until it is redesigned to accommodate the roadway approaches. Again this is about Marc Gordon selling his soul for maximized developer profits, the general public be damned.


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