Council Approves Go Broome Development on Lower East Side

Council Member Chin was pleased to announce deeper affordability, senior housing and the preservation of two Lower East Side institutions in Go Broome project. On February 27, 2020, the full City Council unanimously approved with a companion resolution, GO Broome LLC’s application to rezone and develop a large-scale, mixed use development on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Chinese-American Planning Council and the Gotham Organization Inc. partnered to propose a development with mixed-income, intergenerational housing, commercial retail space and community facility space. The proposed development would be across the street from Essex Crossing and bound between Broome Street to the north, Grand Street to the south, Suffolk Street to the east and Norfolk Street to the west. The application was previously approved by the City Council Committee on Land Use On February 13, 2020, and City Planning on January 21, 2020. Read CityLand’s prior coverage of the Go Broome Street Development here.

The development itself would be composed of two connected buildings, at three different heights, with a common courtyard between the buildings. The building on Suffolk Street would be 30-stories or 310 feet tall and contain the new Chinese-American Planning Council headquarters. The Norfolk Street building would be 16-stories or 165 feet tall and will be home to the newly restored Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Community Center. These two buildings will be connect by an 85 foot street wall along the southern side of Broome Street. The 85 foot street wall is intended to mimic the heights of Essex Crossing. The Broome Street street wall will be occupied as commercial retail space. The zoning text amendment would permit a height waiver and allow a quality housing development within a large-scale residential development. The Quality Housing program encourages development consistent with the character of the neighborhood and sets bulk and height limits for buildings near the street line.

The other proposed text amendment is to establishing a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing area. The development anticipates a total of approximately 488 dwelling units with nearly 115 units dedicated to permanently affordable senior housing, 93 Mandatory Inclusionary Housing units (Option 1) and 280 market-rate housing units. Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1 requires that 25 percent of the units offered in the development be made available at an average of 60 percent Area Median Income. For a family of three, 60 percent AMI equates to approximately $57,660 per year.

Subcommittee Presentation

On January 30, 2020, Daniel Heuberger of Dattner Architects, Wayne Ho, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chinese-American Planning Council, and Bryan Kelly and Simeon E. Maleh of the Gotham Organization, Inc. presented the application to the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.

At the hearing, Heuberger, the project’s architect, explained that the height waiver would serve two critical functions. First, it would allow the project to achieve the density necessary to create a fiscally sustainable project. Second, it helps keep the base height relatively low. A lower base height would help improve light and air at the street level, and additional flexibility in the bulk.

Simeon Maleh said the team anticipates that construction of both the Norfolk building and the Suffolk building will occur at the same time. He also stated the “upzone” was necessary to provide the proposed community benefits.

Building Height rendering Image Credit: City Planning

Council Subcommittee Comment

At the subcommittee hearing, Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises Chair Francisco P. Moya asked the applicants to elaborate on the requested height and bulk waivers on Suffolk Street. The team explained they are asking for an additional 25 feet or 2 additional floors than what is currently permitted in the R9 zoning district. Their belief was that the development’s massing should be sensitive to the area’s context. A lower height, the applicants explained, would make the building’s massing lower, “squattier” and just overall “bulkier.”

Also at the subcommittee hearing, Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area of the proposed rezoning, was generally pleased at the efforts to find affordable housing for seniors and the creation of a permanent home for the Chinese-American Planning Council. Council Member Chin then asked the applicants about efforts to minimize construction impacts, proposed security in the buildings and find ways to bring back former residents of the area. The applicant team stated they were fully committed to minimize the effects of construction, as they too, will be residents during construction. The applicants then stated the new senior building will be monitored 24 hours a day to ensure the safety of the residents. They also said they would work with HPD on a marketing plan to bring former residents, and are open to set asides for homeless and the formerly homeless. These commitments were eventually memorialized before the final vote.

Subcommittee Public Comment

The public comment at the subcommittee hearing was generally mixed. The members of the public opposed to the application generally questioned the height, bulk and context of the development. Multiple people pointed out the narrow streets, no green space and ultimately requested that the developers “respect the R8 zoning” currently controlling the lot. The members of the public in support of the application recognized the importance of creating affordable senior housing. Many came out in support of the cultural space in the development. Specifically, individuals came out to support the Chinese American Planning Council and Project Reach, a youth organization dedicated to addressing discrimination and injustice. Former members of the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol congregation came out to support bringing their community back to their Lower East Side home. The landmarked Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue was destroyed in a 2016 fire.


The application was unanimously approved, with forty-five votes in the affirmative. At the Stated Meeting, Council Member Margaret Chin said “This project will bring to the Lower East Side, desperately needed affordable senior housing, a permanent home for the Chinese American Planning Council and a dedicated space to preserve the legacy and services of the Beth Hamedrash-Hagodol, a synagogue that served the lower east side community for over 120 years, until the tragic fire in 2016… we were able to secure 488 residential units at an average of 53% Area Median Income. 208 Units of 43 percent AMI will be permanently affordable,” adding, “I am also proud that there is a 30 percent set aside for formerly homeless seniors and families.” Chin also committed to working with the applicants and City agencies to implement traffic mitigation measures and traffic studies to “activate pedestrian friendly movement” on the already crowded and narrow Lower East Side streets.

By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)



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