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City Reveals Development Plans For Seward Park Area

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Forty-six years after the bulldozers came through, the Seward Park area of the Lower East side is being redeveloped. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

From seemingly permanently parked trucks, growing weeds, even graffiti and empty liquor bottles to a mixed-use development with a price tag of more than $1 billion.

The city unveiled plans Wednesday to develop Seward Park. It's nine sites near the intersections of Essex and Delancey Streets.

"We've signed contracts," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "This is a done deal."

The mayor said it took five years to broker.

Delancey Street Associates plans a more than 1.5-million-square-foot development with 1,000 units of housing. Half of them will be permanently affordable.

"I think it'll raise the values of the other housing," said one person in the neighborhood.

Some neighbors said they're pleased with some of the project, but also concerned.

"It's kind of pushing out what made the Lower East Side the Lower East Side and turning it into something else, so it's a mixed bag," said one person.

Others worry about the loss of jobs, but the city says it will actually create 1,600 permanent positions and 4,400 construction jobs, some of which have to be union.

"We hope to collaborate with the trades to work together to get to a point where this is a viable, affordable housing job," said Ron Moelis, the CEO of L+M Development Partners.

The build out will create open space, a rooftop open farm, an Andy Warhol museum and 250,000 square feet of office and retail space.

Essex Street Market will expand and move across Delancey Street. The market has been around since before the end of World War II. Vendors sell their wares from meat to fish to produce and even chocolate.

"I started this myself," said Rhonda Kave of Roni-Sue's Chocolates. "It's been bootstrap the whole way for six years."

Kave said she pays less than $1,000 per month for her space because it's public, not market rate. She said the city told the roughly two dozen businesses here that public rates will continue and that they won't have to close before the new location opens.

"It seems genuine, but it's still unknown," she said.

Groundbreaking is set for the spring of 2015. The mayor's office said that the whole project should be complete by the end of 2024.

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