Cooper Sq. developers are ready to break ground

Chrystie Venture Partners development partnership recently closed on the part of the Cooper Sq. Urban Renewal Area south of Houston St., and groundbreaking could happen as early as next month.

The developers will pay the city $13.5 million before construction and the rest of the $40 million price two years after completion of the entire project. The $10 million construction cost of the community center with recreation facilities to be included in the project on the south site of Houston St., between Chrystie St. and the Bowery, was to be factored into the cost, according to Steve Herrick, executive director of the Cooper Sq. Committee.

The part of the project south of Houston St. will include 350 rental units, 288 market rate and 72 low income, 89,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 38,000 sq. ft. of community facility space, to be run by the YMCA and University Settlement.

In total, including the site north of Houston St., between the Bowery and Second Ave., 712 units of housing will be built, with 178 low income and the rest market rate. With Community Access, Cooper Sq. Committee is also co-developing 53 units of supported housing for people with mental disabilities.

Chrystie Venture Partners is a partnership of Avalon Bey with Phipps. According to Virginia Gliedman, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Avalon Bey, the main partner, plans to break ground on the south side of Houston St. next month.

A Home Depot Express was under discussion for the site south of Houston St. by the developers, who had been unable to work out a deal for a 30,000-sq.-ft. supermarket, but felt a big box-type store could work. But Herrick said community reaction to the big box store was unfavorable and that the developer is again moving forward with plans for a large supermarket.

“We don’t want people with vans and S.U.V.’s stopping in to pick up big-ticket items,” Herrick noted.

Home Depot reportedly approached the developers back in April. Deals are closer with some other commercial tenants, like a pharmacy, though in general, the developer has had some difficulty attracting smaller retailers, according to Herrick.

He said he believed delaying the process a bit were complications involved with the M.T.A. in terms of getting an easement for a subway entrance on Chrystie St. south of Houston St. The building planned on that site had to be redesigned to accommodate the subway entrance and the M.T.A. was reportedly slow in getting back to the developers.

The project on the south side of Houston St. should take two years to build. Optimistically, Herrick said, all parts of the project could be done in three and a half years.

Next June is the scheduled closing date for the site on the north side of Houston St. Both projects, on the north and south sides of Houston St., will have 20 percent of their units set aside for affordable housing.