Coliseum Park Apartments 

History

CONTROVERSY

In 1952 the president of the Citizens' Council complained that the plan was "rushed through" without public consideration of "unresolved serious traffic, planning, and financial considerations." To compensate for the traffic problems caused by demapping 59th Street between Columbus Circle and Ninth Avenue, 58th Street and 60th Street were widened.

The Luce papers, and particularly Luce's Architectural Forum, attacked the project, "New York is subverting the Redevelopment Act to tap the Treasury for $6,000,000 for a huge convention hall and sports arena masquerading as a residential project."

In 1953 C. Clarence Kaskel, who owned a pawnshop at 9 Columbus Circle, brought a suit against the city, challenging its right to his property. He lost in the New York State Supreme Court, lost in the Appellate Division by a 5 to 2 vote, and finally lost in the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the state decision. The New York Times reported the majority opinion in the Appellate Division as, "there is ample in this record to justify the determination of the City Planning Commission that a substantial part of the area is 'substandard and insanitary' by modern tests." On the other hand, the court disregarded the expert testimony by the president of the Citizens' Housing and Planning Council, who stated that only ten percent of the area was "substandard or insanitary", that only two percent was "in reality slums". The court case delayed the acquisition of the site for eight months.

In 1954 objections came from the federal government. If an office tower was included in the plan, the whole plan must be resubmitted. Congressman were objecting to this most expensive of all Title 1 projects, six times the average of any other Title 1 projects, and wanted to cut off funds for it. Mayor Wagner stepped in to smooth federal city relations.

In 1957 a mayoral candidate charged Moses with causing hardship to low-income families, 243 families and 362 single-room-occupancy tenants on the site. Moses said that the apartments were not intended as low-rent housing, that Title 1 was designed "to attract private capital into tax-paying housing."

Architects and planners described the project as "an oversized salt box," "just plain punk", "pedestrian," and "hybrid pseudomodern." A taxi driver was quoted as saying, "They should have got an architect to design it for them."

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Coliseum Park Apartments

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