300-Foot Tower Approved for Chambers and West Street

Developer reduced tower by 60 feet and increased community facilities. The City Council approved, without additional changes, the City Planning Commission’s resolutions adopted on July 28, 2004 to allow construction of a 29-story mixed-use building at 200 Chambers Street. The Council’s action completes the designation of the site as an Urban Development Action Area, allows the transfer of City-owned land to the City’s Economic Development Corporation, and approves a special permit to modify height and setback. In the course of the ULURP process, the developer reduced the height of the tower from 360 ft. to 300 ft., eliminated an urban plaza, committed 10,000 sq.ft. of a 40,000-square-foot community facility space to the adjacent P.S. 234, and reduced the project’s size.

The proposed development raised concerns because of the site’s history, the potential shadows on Tribeca’s Washington Market Park, and the impact of new residents on the already overcrowded P.S. 234. The site, part of an expired Urban Renewal Area Plan, had a history of failed development proposals, leaving it one of only two remaining undeveloped sites in the area.

The site currently contains surface parking, a dog run, and a school yard for P.S. 234. The developer proposed construction on the 34,257-square-foot surface parking portion only, but counted the square footage of the dog run and the yard to meet a 40,000 square-foot lot size requirement for the City Planning special permit. The developer originally sought approval of a 35-story tower along the West Side Highway along with a shorter 7-story component along Chambers Street, producing a 402,883-square-foot building with 456 rental units, retail space, and only 18,023 sq.ft. of community facility space.

At the Council meeting, Council Member Alan Gerson stated that the past year could be summarized as one of “heated discussions with the administration” in regard to the proposed development. He urged the Council to vote yes, commenting that an agreement with the developer had just been signed that morning. The Council approved the application by a unanimous vote in the affirmative.

ULURP Process: The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, lead agency, prepared a draft environmental impact statement and the Planning Commission submitted it with the certification to Manhattan Community Board 1. On March 30, 2004, the Board voted to disapprove by 37 to 0 and requested a reduction in height to prevent shadows on Washington Market Park, removal of the urban plaza, and an increase in the community facilities to 40,000 sq.ft. On May 17, 2004, Borough President C. Virginia Fields recommended approval only if the height was limited to 300 ft. and if two community facilities – one for surrounding residents and one for P.S. 234 – were included.

At the June 9, 2004 public hearing before the Planning Commission, Council Member Gerson, a representative for State Senator Martin Connor and for State Assembly Member Deborah Glick testified in opposition along with the Community Board and PTA members. Each spoke of the acute space constraints facing P.S. 234 and the looming tower’s projected shadows. Following the Commission’s hearing, the developer reduced the height to 300 ft., decreased the overall size, and increased the community facilities space to over 40,000 sq.ft. P.S. 234 will have use of 10,000 sq.ft. of the community facilities space, while a community group, Manhattan Youth, will be allotted the remainder. On July 28, 2004, the Commission unanimously approved the revised proposal.

Council: Res. Nos. 573, 574 (September 9, 2004); CPC: 200 Chambers Street (C 040255 HAM UDAAP/disposition); (C 040257 (A)ZSM special permit) (July 28, 2004) (Michael T. Sillerman, Esq., Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, for West-Chambers Associates, LLC; Hardy Adasko, for EDC; Architect: David West, Costas Kondylis & Partners LLP).

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