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Lower Manhattan City Council Seat Candidates Spar Over District Development Issues

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With less than a week to go until primary day, the race for lower Manhattan's City Council seat is becoming increasingly bitter, as the two candidates spar over the future landscape of the district. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

From the Village to Chinatown to the Lower East Side and Battery Park, much of City Council District 1 is a construction site.

Councilwoman Margret Chin and challenger Jenifer Rajkumar are battling over how much construction is enough, and how much is too much.

"I actually had five what we call 'land use development' that came through District 1 in my first term, which is pretty much unheard of," Chin said.

"We really need a council member that is going to stand up for our interests when the developers come here," Rajkumar said.

Rajkumar won an insurgent campaign for a Democratic district leader spot two years ago.

Now, she's hammering Chin, saying the councilwoman was too quick to approve large scale development projects, such as New York University's 2031 expansion plan in the Village.

"When the real estate developers want to build downtown, people come to the council member asking for help to protect our neighborhoods, and when it's come time to lead, she's failed," Rajkumar said.

Chin, however, says this is not so.

During her four years in office, she has supported some major projects, including the NYU expansion plan and redevelopment at the South Street Seaport.

At the Seward Park Urban Renewal site on the Lower East Side, Chin says she negotiated significant concessions, including for half the project to be set aside for affordable housing.

"For 45 years, it has been vacant, no movement on it, and we were able to bring consensus together with the city and the community, and we got 50 percent permanent affordable housing," Chin said.

Spending by independent outside groups could play a big role in the outcome.

A political action committee supported by the Real Estate Board of New York has spent thousands of dollars attacking Rajkumar, even though Chin says she disavows their support.

District 1 was also the hardest hit council district in the borough during Hurricane Sandy.

Both candidates say hurricane preparedness will be among their top priorities.

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