Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Elizabeth St. Garden

An affordable housing project may be getting built on uber-luxurified Elizabeth Street. However, its construction could mean the demolition of the Elizabeth Street Garden. Neighbors have been fighting to protect this space--with a Friends of the Elizabeth Street Garden website that provides all the details and info on action you can take.

Now actor Gabriel Byrne offers his support in a new video by Simon J. Heath.

Byrne has a place on Elizabeth--he bought a $3 million condo at the newly constructed 211 Elizabeth in 2010.

The garden has been here since 1991. It's the place where the Elizabeth Street Gallery keeps its sculptures--antique angels, lions, gargoyles. Locked for many years, it opened to the public some time ago, after the gallery took over the space long occupied by La Rosa & Sons Bakery, back when "Nolita" was still considered Little Italy.

Watch the video here, in which Byrne quotes W.B. Yeats:

You can weigh in on the issue at the LMDC Hearing this Thursday, Sept. 17, 4:30 – 7 p.m., at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, Fiterman Hall, 245 Greenwich St., 13th Floor.


DeeJayGee said...

Good morning.

While your blog is amazing and casts a loving eye at the Vanishing uniqueness of New York, it is misleading and basically incorrect information about this space. The "garden" as it exists now was formed in June 2013; it was never a functioning "garden" until the current group shared the stewardship of the lot with the antique store. This was a private event space and parking lot up until 2 years ago.

The press around this site may be building a "story" to make it feel like it's a long-existing gem being lost. However, it does a huge disservice to community gardeners all over the city who really did the heavy lifting in our communities to make spaces out of nothing.


Debra Glass

Bowery Gals said...

A celebrity with a 4 million dollar apartment who just moved here is now added to the well-funded PR campaign by the uber-monied (whose coming has meant the removal of much of the low-income community that was here). We didn’t ‘get’ that this was a garden. We thought it was an architectural artifacts depot, private parking lot and luxury party rental. Maybe because it didn’t open until 2013 when the leasee caught wind that it was to be developed for affordable housing?

But yes, as Mr. Byrne says, “How we look after the vulnerable, how we look after our children… these are the marks of what it means to be a compassionate society.” Yes to thinking about the “spiritual life” of a community. Well said!

So….how about the over 3000 children in shelter or doubled up who live in this school district? Or the 57,000 homeless people in NYC? Or the young people who don’t have parents who can fund their time in NY? Or the one-in-five elders who live in poverty? Or the people who don’t have $4 million dollars to ‘buy back in’ here? Or who don’t have three homes to pick from? Or who don’t get vacations or have country homes? Do they get our compassion too? Got spiritual guidance for this crowd?

For many this is “a” place, but for others this would be “the” place- their ONLY home.

The offered site on Hudson in a high-rise, Holland Tunnel-traffic, office and luxury housing area. No grocery stores (okay there’s a dunkin donuts) - not even high-end ones. In this neighborhood older Italians, Chinese and others still live who will need an elevator building if they are to stay in the neighborhoods they built.

There are still those of us in this neighborhood who would welcome low-income neighbors to have homes here – even at the cost of losing this site – and that is hard I know. Then again, you could walk 2 and 1/2 blocks to find Liz Christie Garden and the M’Finda Kalunga Garden, but that would mean walking east. Into a low-income neighborhood. Like this used to be.

Vanishing New York isn't just about the buildings or stores. It's also about vanishing neighbors and cultures.

I love Yeats. Here’s a poem from Langston Hughes in return:

“I swear to the Lord, I still can't see, why Democracy means, everybody but me.”

K Webster

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Scout said...

Wow, Toree Hill - it must be nice to see the world as such a black and white thing, particularly when you call black "white," and white "black."

You ask "Are you on Chin's and the developer's side, or are you on the people's side?" as though "the people" really means "the common man," when you really mean the rich denizens of downtown (like Gabriel Byrne) who are utterly LOATHE to see poor people living among them.

To claim that there is insufficient green space in the area totally ignores the enormous park that runs from Canal to Houston between Chrystie and Forsyth mere blocks away.

I love a community garden. This one, however, does smack of "not in my neighborhood" strategy, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if it went private again, after the plan to develop affordable housing got shot down.

Although I really don't care much what happens on Elizabeth Street, I lean toward the belief that "the people" will be better served with affordable (NOT luxury) housing in this instance.

rongee said...

With developers "clearing " traditional NYC neighborhoods to develop housing for the "rich & famous" , rents are skyrocketing, long term residents are being forced to move and unique neighborhoods are turned into brand name store fronts. As of August 2015, the AVERAGE monthly rent in Manhattan is $3,975 ($47,700 annually), with the least expensive at $1,750 a month ($21,000 annually). Bottom line, if you are monied, you can " live" in NYC, if you are middleclass or poor, you can live " hand-to-mouth" in NYC, if you're lucky !

Brian said...

Who deserves what? This is always a difficult question to answer. People need apartments, especially "affordable" housing. Then again, people need parks and open spaces and gardens and they were there first, it is there now, why destroy such a wonderful thing etc ,etc. After seeing the video my conclusion is that this is a lovely place, a symbol of some caring group of people. It is shared with the community. But do they deserve it? I don't don't know enough to know. Wish I did. It really pulls on your heart strings.

zuzuzpetals said...

This garden was always a destination, even for us just walking by. Beautiful, space-creating and a piece of stone literature.

Really sad to see it go the way of glass, steel, and box uniformity.

Bowery Gals said...

Dear Toree. I live in CB2 right around the corner. I've disagreed with Margaret Chin on the LaGuardia Gardens and 135 Bowery -but I do appreciate her willingness to fight for affordable housing. I don't "partake" in a community garden, I work- in three of them. And therein lies the difference. When we couldn't get into this space we found and joined others who were building gardens. Rolled up our sleeves and worked. The folks who came upon this manicured showroom for the expensive artifact purveyor have every right to want this amenity in their backyard. But this is can be %100 affordable. And as much as I value plants and beauty if I have to choose between the people who need housing now, I'm going to choose those in need.
And if I am 'selling out' I sure wish I knew when the first check was coming.