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Decades-Old Plan To Transform Empty LES Lots Moves Forward

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The redevelopment of the area near the Manhattan ramp for the Williamsburg Bridge is set to become a reality after decades of planning. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

It might seem hard to envision now, but barren parking lots on the Lower East Side are set to become a huge development, costing more than a billion dollars and home for thousands of people, along with shops and offices.

"It's very hard to visualize especially since it's been like this for such a long period of time, for 45 years and counting," said NYC Economic Development Corporation Senior Vice President of Development David Quart.


The first phase of the project will break ground in 2015 and will include moving the famed Essex Street Market across Delancey Street. The businesses that have called the public market home for decades will get first crack in the new space.

"It's really capitalizing on what the great things on the current market are and making them even greater in a larger space," Quart noted.

"I think we all want new lighting, new walls, new everything, more accommodations, more comfortable environment for the customers to be in," said Brooklyn Taco Company Co-Founder Jesse Kramer.

Also among the first things to be developed will be a parking lot which is slated to become an apartment building with an Andy Warhol museum on the ground floor.

Another lot on Clinton and Broome overgrown with weeds will become a hub of housing and retail with 15,000 square feet of open space.

Some of the lots were cleared in the 1960s. What made redevelopment real now is the agreement that 50 percent of the 1,000 units of housing will be affordable.

"To families, low, middle and moderate income as well as seniors. And sort of getting the community to compromise and agree to that level of affordability was the key," Quart said.

The site will eventually be linked by an underground space filled with stores.

Some residents cannot wait for the transformation, especially the housing. Others remain skeptical.

"I'll see it when I believe it," said one Lower East Side resident.

"I want to see progress because you can put a nice building here, that's more housing people for people, especially for people like low income, like us," said another Lower East Side resident.

All of the construction for the project is expected to be completed by 2024.

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