63-story tower to use Battery Tunnel air rights

Time Equities will build a 725-foot-tall mixed-use tower above the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel approach. Image:Murphy/Jahn Architects.

Helmut Jahn-designed tower will include four-star hotel, condos, spa and fitness center. On November 15, 2007, the City Council voted to approve Time Equities Inc.’s five linked applications to construct a 725-foot-tall mixed-use tower at 50 West Street, directly north of the Battery Parking Garage and adjacent to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. The tower will contain ground-floor retail, 155 hotel rooms, and 290 condominiums. The project site will also contain a 6,821-square-foot urban plaza, which will be open to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The project site, located within the Special Lower Manhattan District, occupies the southern portion of the block bounded by Rector, West, Washington and Joseph P. Ward Streets. Time Equities will demolish the three buildings currently at the site, the tallest of which stands 13 stories tall.

Time Equities sought to demap and acquire portions of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel approach and James P. Ward Street, as well as an 8-inch wide, 121-square-foot strip of land that is part of the tunnel approach and runs along the southern boundary of the site. Time Equities also sought to purchase from the City between 179,998 to 189,525 sq.ft. of development rights from the demapped areas above the tunnel.

In addition to special permits modifying setback and other zoning requirements, Time Equities requested an amendment to the Special Lower Manhattan District’s zoning text in order to construct an urban plaza at the site, which would generate a floor area bonus for the development.

Both the Manhattan Borough President and Manhattan Community Board 1 recommended approval for portions of the project, but asked that Time Equities include an affordable housing component. The Board also recommended that all the proceeds from the sale of the City’s development rights be used to benefit the Board’s district.

At the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning & Franchises public hearing, Council Member Larry Seabrook asked Time Equities whether it would build affordable housing as part of the project. The developer responded that it did not include such a component in its proposal because it was not required to do so.

Hardy Adasko, Senior Vice President for Development at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, testified in support of the proposal. Adasko reiterated that Time Equities was not under any legal requirement to provide affordable housing and further stated that the project would not displace any local residents.

The Council approved the project, but only after Council Member Alan Gerson, whose district includes Battery Park City, spearheaded negotiations between Time Equities, EDC and the Board, which resulted in an agreement that will require Time Equities to contribute $5 million to a fund operated by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for affordable housing opportunities in Lower Manhattan. In addition, Time Equities will provide a $500,000 mobile computer network for the local public school, and $300,000 for regional science education. According to Gerson, Time Equities and EDC will execute the agreement in late December, at the closing for the development rights purchase.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency: Office of Dep. Mayor Econ.
Dev. and Rebuilding,Neg.Dec.

Map and Text Amendments
Comm.Bd.: MN 1,App’d, 35-5-3
CPC: App’d, 8-2-0
Council: App’d, 49-0-0

Special Permit (setbacks & urban plaza;single zoning lot)
Comm.Bd.: MN 1,App’d, 35-5-3; 35-5-3
Boro.Pres.: App’d;Den’d
CPC: 10-0-0; 8-2-0
Council: App’d, 49-0-0

Council: 50 West Street (Nov. 17, 2007); CPC: 50 West Street (C 070351 MMM – map amend.); (N 070412 ZRM – text amend.); (C 070413 ZSM – spec.perm., single lot); (C 070414 ZSM – spec.perm., setback); (C 070415 ZSM – spec. perm., urban pl.) (Oct. 1, 2007). CITYADMIN

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