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A plan to make nine mostly vacant city-owned parcels available for commercial and residential development on Manhattan’s Lower East Side won City Council approval last week, the next-to-last step in New York City’s tortuous—and sometimes torturous—land-use review process. The final step—the mayor’s signature on the bill—is pretty much a fait accompli in this case. Getting to this point only took about half a century.

When the scenario then known as the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area was first proposed, Robert F. Wagner Jr. was mayor, the Beatles were riding high on the Top 40 charts thanks to sales of seven-inch circular slabs of vinyl, 200 Park Ave. bore the logo of Pan American World Airways and your humble scribe had yet to enter kindergarten. Seven mayoralties and 47 years later, the city and the world have evolved to the point that relatively little is as it was in 1965.

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