Council Approves Plan To Replace UWS Garages With Housing

Patch.pngBy Brendan Krisel

The New York City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a plan to replace three city-owned parking garages on the Upper West Side with affordable housing developments.

The council voted 50 to zero with no abstentions to approve land use applications filed by the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH), which will develop and manage the new housing buildings. The applications cede the city-owned site to the organization, upzone the site to increase the size of the new development and apply Mandatory Inclusionary Housing regulations on the site.

The West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing's development on West 108th Street — located between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues — will create a total of 279 permanently affordable housing units for low-income seniors and families.

Of the new housing units, 119 will be supportive housing, 79 will be set aside for families earning less than 60 percent of the area median income and 81 will be set aside for senior citizens, according to a press release from City Councilman Mark Levine's office.

Valley Lodge — a transitional homeless shelter that WSFSSH currently operates on the block — will be rebuilt with 110 units for adults older than 50.

Levine said during Wednesday's city council vote that the project will bring "many benefits" to the neighborhood.

"This project is a huge win for our community," Levine said in a statement. "It will provide desperately needed affordable housing, social services, medical care, park improvements, school upgrades, and more. A revitalized 108th Street will be a vibrant, welcoming new destination for local residents of all backgrounds, and I am incredibly proud we were able to secure so many benefits for the neighborhood."

In addition to creating affordable housing, the plan includes installing a brand-new turf field at Booker T. Washington Middle School, upgrading Anibal Aviles Playground, building a community health clinic and supplying parking for the Central Park Medical Unit.

"We are thrilled to receive City Council's unanimous support to approve WSFSSH at West 108," WSFSSH Executive Director Paul Freitag said in a statement. "In addition to providing safe, affordable housing for seniors and families in the area, WSFSSH at West 108 will bring many benefits to the community, including healthcare services, community meeting spaces, a home for the Central Park Medical Unit and public restrooms for Anibal Aviles playground."

The project wasn't without controversy. Detractors formed a coalition named "Save Manhattan Valley," which was active at Community Board 7 meetings during the public review process. Many members of the group pleaded with the local community board to reconsider its support of the project. The group's members cited lost parking and the potential environmental hazards of demolition and construction on the site as reasons to oppose the project. The group formed in March 2016 after WSFSSH first presented its plan to the community, according to its website.

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