Editorial: Lorena Plaza housing project moves forward. For real this time
By Peter Ujhelyi
If this were any other year, we would be doing the usual thing: reporting on projects that are under protest or under way. Such is not the case in 2016, however.
Some would argue that 2015 was no different than any other year, where our focus is set on such familiar projects as the High Line in New York, the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in Canada. The reason is simple: The world has changed since the days when most communities were struggling for basic services and public housing was a rare commodity in many parts of the United States. That’s why we devote so much ink to this kind of project, or any project, in the face of the same old problems.
But there is one project that is set to reshape the landscape of New York City: Lorena Plaza, a new project to rehabilitate a once run-down section of Roosevelt Island. The project is now in the planning stage, and the city is reportedly ready to go ahead with it, despite the opposition of neighborhood residents.
The current status of the project has changed from a long-term plan to a short-term plan, moving it from the status of a proposal to a plan that is in the works. The status of the project is a direct result of the decision of the Brooklyn Board of Estimate (BOE) in May 2015 to approve a development agreement for Lorena Plaza with the developer, the Baupost Group.
While the BOE approval did not necessarily include a timeline for the project, the BOE approval did indicate that the development would go ahead, on condition that the neighborhood and the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) would receive the appropriate permits as part of a review process.
Before moving any further, the BOE has taken several other steps that are pertinent for the project. For instance, it has completed a public hearing process, which took place between May and July 2014, and it has obtained the necessary building permit from the DOB as well as other permits from the New York City Department of Design and Construction.
Further, the BOE has taken the following steps in order to get the project going: