This week in history: Bellevue South redevelopment

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the August 27, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Bellevue South Redevelopment

Phipps Plaza, known as Kips Bay Court, between First and Second Avenues at East 26th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Phipps Plaza, known as Kips Bay Court, between First and Second Avenues at East 26th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A handful of articles in this 1964 issue of Town & Village dealt with the city’s proposal for what was known then as the Bellevue South neighborhood, located between First and Second Avenues from East 23rd Street to East 30th Street. The urban redevelopment plan called for essentially bulldozing the entire seven-block area and rebuild to include more affordable housing. The project envisioned 17 residential buildings from six to 32 stories tall, containing 2,260 lower to middle-income apartments.

Residents of the neighborhood had recently drafted their own alternative plan in an attempt to fight the plan proposed by the city. The group presented themselves as the Bellevue South Planners Group and presented their proposal for the Board of Estimate. Their plan included the development of buildings which, by their description, sound similar to what Waterside Plaza became: low and middle-income housing surrounding a central park area and use of air rights above the FDR.

The plan was in contrast to that of the city’s, which they said would “plow through” 23rd to 30th Street, “uprooting thousands of tenants, destroying hundreds of businesses and ending employment for more than a thousand workers.”

Another story in this issue of T&V noted that residents had debated the merits of the city’s redevelopment plan at a public hearing the previous Thursday. Opponents of the plan insisted that the area wasn’t a slum and wanted to encourage the developers to consider making improvements on the existing buildings rather than razing the whole area. They also felt that the proper plans weren’t in place to relocate the residents and businesses that would be displaced.

Eleanor Clark French, a Democratic candidate for Congress at the time, made a statement at the hearing, reinforcing that she supported the plan because of the need for middle-income housing but noted that forcing out all of the low-income families would change the character of the neighborhood and the number of affordable housing units planned for the new development was not enough.

The Parks Department website notes that Bellevue Park South, located west of the hospital complex, got its name because it was directly south of the original Bellevue Urban Renewal Area at Kips Bay Plaza and was included in the plans. Old factory buildings and tenements did ultimately give way to newer buildings centered on the complex of eight mixed-income apartment buildings, known then as Phipps Plaza.

In 2004, the buildings between First and Second Avenues from East 26th to 29th Streets formerly known as Phipps Plaza were pulled out of the Mitchell-Lama program after 28 years of providing affordable housing for middle-income residents and became market rate apartments. The buildings now go by the name Kips Bay Court.

Army vet dies after short miracle
A veteran who had shot himself in the head on August 18, 1964 miraculously survived for five days following the incident but T&V reported in this issue that he had in fact died on the previous Sunday in the VA Hospital.

George Broadway, a 34-year-old resident of 450 East 20th Street, left his apartment on the morning of the 18th to head to his regular appointment at the VA Hospital’s psychiatric outpatient clinic. After he arrived at the hospital, a psychologist asked him to wait to see a psychiatrist because he was concerned about Broadway’s emotional state. Soon after, Broadway went into an adjoining room and fired a shot, which passed completely through his skull.

Broadway was a policy checker for an insurance firm and left behind a wife and seven-year-old daughter.

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