In 2000, Chrystie Venture Partners (CVP) was selected to construct a $230 million mixed-use development, one of the largest development projects in HPD’s history, on four sites in the Cooper Square Urban Renewal Area. When completed, CVP will create 712 residential units – 25 percent of which are reserved by the city for affordable, below-market-rate-rent apartments – almost 200,000-square-feet of retail space and a 30,000-square-foot community recreation center. In addition, two community gardens, the Liz Christy Garden and the Rock ‘n’ Rose Garden, at the corners of Houston Street with Second Avenue and the Bowery, will be preserved.
In June 2005 AvalonBay Communities opened the first of its luxury rental apartments in the Cooper Square development, realizing the city’s long-term vision for the redevelopment of the location on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The project represents part of the last leg of the community’s alternate plan to former city planning czar Robert Moses’ 1969 scheme to build a Stuyvesant Town-like complex of buildings in an urban renewal area between Delancey and Ninth Streets, between the Bowery and Second Avenue.
Led by the Cooper Square Committee, local housing activists in the 1970s got the urban renewal zone reduced to the area between Stanton and Fifth Streets and fought to preserve much of the existing housing stock for low-income residents. In the 1990s, a Cooper Square Task Force was created to come up with a concept plan for projects on the final few largely undeveloped sites.
Avalon Chrystie Place also includes a community center — built by AvalonBay — which includes a competition-size pool. The neighborhood community center, operated in a partnership between University Settlement and the Chinatown Y, is located on the Bowery and opened in early 2006. In 2007 Whole Foods Markets will be opening one of their largest retail stores in the country in the first and second floors of Avalon Chrystie Place.
While Avalon Chrystie Place is now nearly completely rented, AvalonBay has begun construction on its second rental apartment building — on the Bowery and the north side of East Houston Street. A nine-story building, it will feature 206 rental apartments, a lounge, a roof terrace, and a fitness center for residents, along with 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
An important part of the entire Cooper Square project is the affordable apartments. Each of the three AvalonBay buildings includes affordable apartments. The Phipps Houses, a nonprofit housing developer, under the supervision of the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the State Housing Finance Agency, is managing the program for affordable apartments. In addition, Phipps Houses is constructing a fourth building located on the Bowery at East First Street, which will offer 42 affordable apartments and ground-floor retail space.