After much backlash from New York City Councilmember Brad Lander and several community members in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Lightstone Group has decided to abandon its proposed “minor modification” in favor of keeping the as-of-right design for its Gowanus Canal-side development that is in compliance with the rezoning passed in 2009. Today the New York City Department of City Planning gave Lightstone the greenlight to move ahead with its 700-unit residential development on the Gowanus. The “Minor Modification” would have used a waiver to extend the depth in the rear yard. And while the design initially won the community board’s support, the damage and flooding from Hurricane Sandy in the area generated concern and protest among some residents. According to a statement released by Lightstone today, the design approved is “very similar to the Minor Modification design,” which includes the identical massing along Bond Street and along portions of First and Second Streets, the same floor area and uses of retail and residential space, and the same number of units and affordable apartments. But Lightstone did manage to deviate from the original design by Toll Brothers, the previous developer, by “gently stepping up" the building heights toward the canal and adding 2,955 square feet of open space to accommodate an expanded public walkway along the canal and pull the buildings away from the waterfront. The developers will also adhere to new FEMA maps and implement the required changes to protect the building from flooding such as raising the lowest occupied floors and moving all mechanical equipment to above grade. The blog Pardon Me For Asking reported that even though the Minor Modification is off the table, Brad Lander is not budging on his position. “In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I continue to believe it is a mistake to move forward with dense, high-rise, residential development without a comprehensive plan for infrastructure and land use regulations that Gowanus needs,” said Lander.
Posts tagged with "rezoning":
The New York Department of City Planning just approved a rezoning plan of Hudson Square that could likely change the scale of the neighborhood. Developers and landlords can now raise the building height to 290 feet along wide streets, which will make Hudson Square, an 18-block area located west of Soho and south of South Village, more suitable for residential and mixed-use development. Curbed reported that preservationists advocated for landmark designation for South Village to prevent any large-scale development from spilling over into the neighborhood, but a historic district was absent from the zoning amendments. Developer Trinity Real Estate, which owns 40 percent of Hudson Square’s property, initially proposed the rezoning and has committed to making neighborhood improvements.
Changes are brewing in East Harlem. DNAinfo reported this week that Community Board 11 just approved a new rezoning plan for a 60-block stretch that runs along Madison, Park, and Lexington avenues between East 115th and East 132nd streets. The proposal is a collaborative effort between Community Board 11’s Land Use Committee, the planning firm George M. Janes & Associates, and Civitas, a local advocacy group. Instead of recommending uniform changes, the proposal addresses the needs and character of each specific area in East Harlem whether it be residential, light industrial, mixed-use, or commercial. According to DNAinfo, taller buildings will be permitted “in exchange for permanently affordable housing units.” The proposal also looks at possible solutions for the foreboding Metro-North viaduct that extends over Park Avenue.
West Market Street, a once seedy part of Philadelphia, is set to undergo a transformation in the near future. PlanPhilly reported that the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) released a new report that recommends creating mixed-use developments centered around transit stops. A few of the projects slated for the West Market Corridor include a transit-related development called New West, a building for police administration and other city services, and a redevelopment of a large parking lot. While the plans call for mixed-use, housing will play a lesser part in the development since population is decreasing, which “makes demand for housing pretty tough” said Planning Commission Chairman and Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger. To move this plan forward, PCPC will need to revise zoning maps, work with property owners in the area, and look into a tax credit program.
The rezoning of Coney Island may have takn up all the oxygen at the City Council Wednesday, but it was far from the only rezoning to pass, and far from the only important one. The council also approved a major downzoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which, at 175 blocks, is not only huge, but important, as it was meant to protect the area from out-of-scale overdevelopment. It may be a little too late for that, but better late than never, we guess. Or maybe never again is more like it. The Flatbush neighborhood on the south side of Prospect Park got a similar treatment, receiving a massive 180 block downzoning again to protect against uncharacteristic development. Dumbo was rezoned, though in a particularly contextual manner, given its unique historic character, as were four contiguous neighborhoods in Queens. But perhaps most important was a citywide change to the inclusionary housing bonus. The chief mechanism by which the Bloomberg administration has promoted affordable housing, the inclusionary housing bonus was extended throughout the city beginning with the original rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in 2005. It had existed since 1987 in some of Manhattan's highest density areas, but it would later be deployed throughout the city because the administration liked how it married private development to the public needs of affordable housing. Essentially, the program offers developers additional density, usually in the neighborhood of 10-12 percent, if they make at least 20 percent of their units affordable. Because this means extra height, it is often worth it in the world of residential development. (At the same time, the program is voluntary, which has created complaints from numerous housing advocates, as some developers forgo the bonus because of construction costs, thereby depressing the number of affordable housing units created.) Yesterday's amendment creates a relatively new home ownership option--it had been deployed in discrete instances in the past--that would not only allow planners and developers to create affordable rentals in neighborhoods, but what are essentially affordable condos. The one downside? The price is regulated, so it would be near impossible to sell and reap much in the way of profits, one of the many reasons for buying a home (at least until recently). The program will likely be targeted at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder, though, where such things are less of a concern and it's more about getting out of the projects or substandard rental housing. The amendment also impacts the original program from 1987, which affects the city's highest density residential districts, the R10s. Currently, affordable units in those projects are ineligible for subsidies, but now they will no longer be exempt, thus paving the way for additional affordable units. (For the best explanation, including some really good visuals, check out the DCP's slideshow.)