The long abandoned and overgrown corner of East 78th Street and First Avenue appears poised for much needed change. However, the change that is likely afoot is not the kind that many in the neighborhood had hoped for.
Since early December 2020, local residents and lawmakers rallied for action to transform the makeshift rat jungle into a community garden. United States Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney promised to investigate who was behind the LLC that held title to the vacant lots so that they could be compelled to cooperate. She even sent letters to the New York City Department of Sanitation and then mayor-elect Eric Adams, asking for an investigation into the “conditions at the site” and to “take appropriate action to address the rodent issue found at the corner of East 78th Street and First Avenue.”
It seemed that progress was underway just before the Christmas holiday. CBS 2 spoke with then incoming councilwoman Julie Menin who said that the rat-infested lot was cleared. Property owner Robert Chou also spoke to the news outlet to report that plans to develop the property were in the works but that there was no intention to provide public access.
So, when the last bit of the urban jungle was cleared away, so was the hope of a neighborhood green space.
On January 7, 2022, The Real Deal reported that the property was sold to a San Francisco based developer named Carmel Partners for $73.5 million dollars. The lot is zoned for a building up to 153,000 square feet, and while project details are currently unknown, here’s a look at the developer’s other NYC buildings.