Elizabeth Street Garden

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Residents Fight City Over Fate Of SoHo Community Garden

December 02, 2018 - 4:50 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- It’s a David versus Goliath battle playing out in Manhattan as a community garden looks to push back against the City as officials move to create more affordable housing.

Demolition began at the Mandela Garden in Harlem last month to make way for affordable housing, and now folks at the Elizabeth Street Garden fear they might be next.

Joseph Reiver, the executive director of the Elizabeth Street Garden, says it’s not that residents are against affordable housing.

“We never wanted to be pitted against affordable housing, and we actually support affordable housing,” he said.

Reiver says the Elizabeth Street Garden is the only real public green space in Little Italy and SoHo. The rest, he says, are paved parks. 

“People and neighbors have a chance to meet each other, they have a chance to really experience a truly desperately needed green space in such a dense neighborhood,” Reiver said.

But the City's planning to bulldoze the garden to put in more affordable housing units.

"We definitely intend to file a lawsuit to stop them,” Reiver said.

City Councilman Rafael Espinal has also joined the fight.

"The city should reflect and take a deeper look at the importance of these gardens and how the city can be a better partner at preserving them instead of destroying them,” Espinal said.

Legally, the space is owned by the city, which contends that it always planned to develop the lot.