Posts tagged with "New York City Council":

Midtown East rezoning gets final approval from City Council

After five arduous years, New York City’s Midtown East rezoning proposal cleared City Council today, paving the way for new office towers to rise in the neighborhood.

The proposal, approved 42-0, updates the area’s zoning code to incentivize new, dense development and revitalize the flagging business area in order to compete with the Financial District and Hudson Yards. The 78 blocks in the area are currently home to more than 250,000 jobs and generate ten percent of the city’s property tax base, according toNew York Daily News article penned by Councilman Daniel Garodnick. The city anticipates 6.5 million square feet of office space being added to East Midtown.

Developers can build higher and gain more floor-area-ratio (FAR) by either buying landmarked air rights or making specific transit improvements (targeted mainly at subway stations). Several recent changes include the lowering of the air rights minimum: developers can purchase air rights at $61.49 per square foot, of which the proceeds will go toward a public realm fund. Developers are also required pay upfront for transit improvements if they choose to go that route; buildings will not be occupiable until those improvements are finished.

“The goal is to improve Midtown, not keep it as it is,” Councilman Garodnick said at the meeting.

The city has committed $50 million to start improving public spaces—before anything is built—and the first project includes a shared street on 43rd Street, near Grand Central Terminal. Over the next 20 years, the city estimates that up to 16 properties could take advantage of the rezoning.

At long last, City Council approves St. John’s Terminal–Pier 40 development

Yesterday the New York City Council approved a massive Manhattan air right transfer that allows the controversial St. John's Terminal–Pier 40 development to move forward.

The development of St. John's Terminal, which occupies a three-block area along the West Side Highway across from Hudson River Park, is made possible by the transfer of air rights from the park's stewards to the developers, Westbrook Partners and the Atlas Capital Group. The firms will pay the Hudson River Park Trust $100 million for 200,000 square feet of air rights; in return, they can build five buildings to replace the aging terminal. The exchange allows the Trust, which is self-funding, to repair the pier, which hosts a parking garage, much-needed playing fields, and offices. City Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district includes the project area, has been negotiating the quid-pro-quo for three years. Despite weaker allowances for affordable housing, many elected officials, preservationists, and residents say they already see its benefits. Part of the deal included a bid to designate the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District (also called the South Village Historic District), a 40-block zone in Soho bounded by five other lower Manhattan historic districts. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) approved the district two days before the City Council's vote. At that public hearing prior to the LPC's vote, preservationists and South Village citizens testified to the “spirit of the neighborhood”: “safe and clean,” “neighbors know each other,” and its “wonderful lifestyle and cityscape.” Besides protecting the social and cultural history of the neighborhood, the designation of the 160-building area will prevent outsize construction within its mostly low-rise boundaries. Preservation advocacy group the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) spearheaded the decade-plus campaign to landmark a downtown area that includes over 1,250 structures. The two-million-square-foot St. John's project includes 500 units (30 percent of the total) of housing that will be offered to qualifying households at a range of below-market rates, but the rates are not as low they should be under current law. Typically, projects like St. John's Terminal that benefit from upzonings must comply with the city's Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which says at least 30 percent of a development's units must go to households making 80 percent of the area median income. This time, though, Johnson, Borough President Gale Brewer, and the community board okayed the upzoning because of the millions going to park upgrades. On Thursday, two council members voted no on the plan, with one abstention, to protest its lowered affordability requirements. Despite the size and ambition of the approved development, the community bargained for provisions that try to keep its character. The deal includes a restriction on future air rights transfers from Hudson River Park within Community Board 2, as well as a ban on big box (most stores over 10,000 square feet) and destination retail to prevent an odious amount of traffic.

Architects, preservationists come out in force against bill that would change historic preservation in New York City

New York City Council members Peter A. Koo and David Greenfield introduced a bill in April 2015 that would radically alter the way the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) considers sites for historic preservation. That measure, Intro 775, was debated yesterday in an epic public hearing that lasted more than six hours.  Intro 775 is a proposed City Council measure to eliminate the LPC's backlog of sites under consideration by instituting time limits on how long a site can stay up for landmark consideration. The bill would impose one-year time limits on individual sites up for landmark status and two year time limits on proposed historic districts. All items that the LPC fails to reach an agreement on would not be eligible for reconsideration for five years. If the bill is passed, the LPC would have 18 months to review their calendar and decide on the status of the 95 items. If the review is not complete in 18 months, these items would be permanently deleted from the calendar. Currently, there are 95 sites under consideration by the LPC (map). Of those sites, 85 percent have been on the LPC's calendar for more than twenty years. The LPC actively solicits public input on how to clear the backlog. Area preservationists and architects overwhelmingly oppose the measure. New York City's five AIA chapters issued a joint statement on the bill: "LPC plays an essential role in ensuring the quality and character of our physical city. The bill, as written, will compromise our City’s seminal Landmarks Law that so greatly contributes to the uniqueness of our urban realm, gives definition to communities, and increases the value of real estate." Other opponents of the bill claim that putting a time cap on the review process would discourage the nomination of controversial or complicated sites. Meenakshi Srinivasan, the LPC's chair, also opposes Intro 775, but is open to internal rules (in lieu of a city law) to expedite the review of sites. After six hours of intense discussion, the Committee on Land Use delayed the proposal until its next meeting on September 25th.

Farewell to the Famed Graffiti Haven: 5Pointz Demolition Moves Ahead

It is the end of an era. The New York City Council voted in a favor of a plan to demolish the iconic 5Pointz, the former manufacturing building-turned-graffiti-mecca, in Long Island City, Queens, to make way for a $400 million residential development. The New York Times reported that the Wolkoff family, the owner and developer of the property, will build two residential towers—one of which will climb up to 47 stories—consisting all together of 1,000 units. But first, the Wolkoffs needed the approval of City Council to build beyond the current zoning regulations. Before today's decision, the developer negotiated a deal with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and the community board to bump up the number of affordable apartments to 210 and accommodate 12,000 square of artist studio space. The $400 million project will also provide wall space for aerosol artists to exhibit their work. The graffiti artists, however, are disappointed with this offer and the final outcome. Jonathan Cohen, curator of 5Pointz, told the New York Times, that this development will “just destroy more of what made New York what it is. Now it is just boring, full of bland boring towers of boxes of glass."

NYC Department of Design and Construction Launches Program to Support Local Designers

Last May New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new initiative, NYC X Design, to promote New York's design community, an economic sector that includes more than 40,000 designers of various disciplines, according to official figures. As an outgrowth of NYC X Design, today the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) launched a new pilot project called Built/NYC, which provides $400,000 in capital funding for custom furniture, lighting, or textile designs in up to 20 city building projects. Council Speaker Quinn's office provided the funding for the project, and at a press conference today held at the NoHo design store, The Future Perfect, Speaker Quinn argued that the initiative would support both local designers and local manufacturers and help maintain a diverse economy. Interested designers can respond to an new RFQ, which would place them on a pre-qualified list to be considered for custom pieces for projects like new libraries, community centers, or fire houses (architects for the building projects sit on the selection committee).  According to Victoria Milne, Director of creative services for DDC, designers will retain copyright to the designs, allowing them to potentially sell their objects to other municipalities or to bring them to market through a manufacturer. Industrial and interior designer Harry Allen praised the program for giving opportunities to local designers. He said that New York is "an amazing creative city, but also a hard city." Built/NYC will serve as a new way for industrial, lighting, and textile designers to break into public work. Quinn demonstrated her love of design by complimenting Allen on his slip-on Converse Jack Purcell shoes and she gushed about the wares on display at the The Future Perfect. She warned the assembled reporters to be careful in the store. "If you break it, you buy it," she joked.

New Zoning Could Bring Restaurants, Shops, and a Hotel to Governors Island

Only a little over decade ago, Governors Island was a sleepy coast guard base just a stone's throw from Lower Manhattan, but it has since become a destination for New Yorkers offering a slew of recreational activities, events, and new park land. Now the idyllic island could be populated by a new hotel along with restaurants, retail, and other commercial development. Crain's reported that City Council will vote tomorrow on a zoning change that would allow 40 historic buildings—that make up 1.2 million square feet on the island—to be used for commercial activity. The revenue generated from commercial development would help with upkeep and day-to-day operations of the island, which so far has been paid for by the city. In December, the Trust for Governors Island issued a request for proposals asking developers to submit ideas for the 40 structures that could provide a range of uses and services.

Speaker Quinn Backs Ten-Year Term Limit for Madison Square Garden

Consensus among the city's political players is growing in favor of the relocation of Madison Square Garden from its home atop Penn Station. Yesterday, City Council held a public hearing to discuss the future of the Garden and the overcrowded train terminal. Filmmaker Spike Lee, surrounded by an entourage of former Knicks players, testified on behalf of the Garden. According to the Wall Street Journal, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn expressed her support of a ten-year term limit for the arena in a letter addressed to the Garden's President and CEO, Hank Ratner, on Wednesday. The owners of the arena have requested a permit in perpetuity, however, several government officials and advocacy groups—including Borough President Scott Stringer, the Municipal Art Society (MAS), and the Regional Plan Association—have called for limiting the permit to 10 years. This comes after the City Planning Commission voted unanimously for a 15-year permit extension.

TEN Arquitectos’ Brooklyn Cultural District Tower Approved by City Council

Yesterday, the New York City Council approved a 32-story tower designed by TEN Arquitectos that is set to rise on an empty parcel adjacent to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As AN reported last November, the site is the last undeveloped city-owned lot in the district. The mixed-use project will include 300 residential units (60 which will be "affordable"); 50,000 square feet of cultural space to be shared by BAM Cinema, performance groups connected with 651 Arts, and a new branch of the Brooklyn Public Library; a 10,000-square-foot public plaza; and 15,000 square feet of ground-level retail. “Two Trees is grateful to the City Council for its support and proud to partner with the city and some of Brooklyn’s most innovative cultural institutions to advance the growth of downtown Brooklyn’s world-class cultural district,” said Jed Walentas, a principal at Two Trees Management, in a statement. “With cultural space, much-needed affordable housing, and a new public plaza, we will be transforming a parking lot into an iconic building with many public benefits.”

Grannie’s and Drones: Group Seeking to Make New York a “No Drone Zone”

On a recent walk down Broadway near the AN offices in Lower Manhattan I was handed a flyer by The Granny Peace Brigade who were protesting in front of a building where several New York City Council Members have offices. The flyer claims in bold letters "High Tech Stop and Frisk: Domestic Drones Coming to Your Neighborhood?" It had an image of a LEAPP Drone made by Brooklyn Navy Yard–based Atair Aerospace who claim their powered paraglider "is a slow-flying, long endurance powered paraglider UAV [Unarmed Aerial Vehicle] platform that is used for ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] and distributive operations payload delivery missions," but that the Brigade believes could be used to monitor for loitering. The Granny's claim "Predator drones assassinate people designated as terrorists, who have never been lawfully charged nor tried. And there is a grave danger that drones will come home." They are asking the New York City Council to declare the city a "No Drone Zone," and for the public to write their City Council representative and ask them sponsor such a resolution. Given New York's controversial stop and frisk policy it is not too early to be concerned with this drone threat. It does seem inevitable that if this technology is used but the U.S. military it will someday come home to local police forces.

New York City Looks to Activate Public Space on Downtown Manhattan’s Water Street

After Hurricane Sandy swept through the east coast, it left Water Street, a sleepy corridor in lower Manhattan, even more deserted. But now, Department of City Planning (DCP) has proposed a zoning text amendment to enliven the quiet downtown stretch by allowing for seating, art installations, food trucks, concerts, and other such events and amenities on privately owned public spaces (POPS). Sprinkled throughout the city, POPS are unique public areas that are maintained by developers for public use in return for more floor space in their development. This slice of downtown is a mix of commercial and residential buildings, and has a shortage of amenities to offer residents and employees in the area. DCP hopes to change this and turn Water Street, extending from State to Fulton Streets, into a “Public Space Activation Area” for a variety of activities such as farmer markets, concerts, food tastings, festivals, cultural exhibitions, and performances for this coming summer, spring, and holiday season. The City Planning Commission green lighted the proposal back in April, and next City Council will make the final decision by June 29th. water_st_pops_map_01

New York City Council Approves SHoP-Designed Pier 17 Makeover at the South Street Seaport

Last Wednesday, the New York City Council unanimously approved plans to tear down the current Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport and build a new $200 million SHoP Architects-designed mall in its place, marking the end of the long and sometimes contentious ULURP approval process. Crain's reported that Dallas-based developer Howard Hughes made some concessions to the council including pushing back construction on the project to allow Hurricane Sandy-battered tenants to have an additional summer season, with construction now anticipated to begin on October 1st. SHoP's design calls for a mix of boutique and large retail spaces inside the 250,000-square-foot facility connected by open air pedestrian corridors. Large glass garage doors can be lowered during inclement weather to protect these open spaces. The new building will be capped with an occupiable green roof. As part of the City Council approval, the developers will also build two new food markets adjacent to the new structure in the old Link and Tin Buildings. The project is expected to be complete by 2015. Besides Pier 17, SHoP is also designing another waterfront mall in Staten Island called the Harbor Commons.  

New York City Council Approves Hudson Square Rezoning

Aerial view of Hudson Square. (Courtesy Hudson Square BID) Development is soon on the horizon for Hudson Square, the 18-block area sandwiched between Soho and Tribeca. Yesterday New York City Council approved the Hudson Square rezoning, which entails raising the allowable building height to pave the way for more residential and mixed-use development. The city was able to finagle more affordable housing and open space throughout the approval process. From the get-go, preservationists have feared that development will seep into the South Village and have pressed the city to landmark the entire district. City Council has worked out a deal with Landmarks Preservation Commission to vote on the northern section of South Village by the end of the year.