BSA approved residential building in Tribeca

Manufacturing and office use found infeasible on triangular-shaped lot adjacent to Holland Tunnel. The owner of 500 Canal Street, Greenwich Triangle NU, sought a variance to build a 49,060 squarefoot, eight-story residential building with ground floor retail in a Tribeca manufacturing zoning district. The 8,000 square-foot, triangular-shaped lot fronts Canal, Greenwich and Watt Streets directly adjacent to the Holland Tunnel. The site is partially developed with abandoned one and three-story buildings.

The owner argued that as-of-right office and manufacturing uses were economically infeasible due to the site’s location and its three exposed street frontages. High construction costs were anticipated, the owner represented, because the Port Authority prohibited pile driving on the lot due to the site’s adjacency to the Holland Tunnel. Costs further increased because a development on the lots would require three separate facades, increasing material costs and construction time. Further, office and manufacturing users would find the triangular- shaped floor plates unusable and undesirable.

At the hearings, BSA, noting that the residential sale comparables submitted by the owner seemed low and outdated, requested new comparables and a new analysis of the potential rate of return for a reduced 40,000 square-foot residential building. When the owner returned an analysis concluding that a 40,000 square-foot condo building would not earn a reasonable return, BSA was unconvinced. Consequently, the owner revised the application, reducing the building height from 98 ft. to 86 ft., and to seven stories and 43,807 sq.ft.

With the reduction, BSA approved the variance application, finding that the site’s unique cumulative construction costs made strict compliance with the zoning infeasible and the reduced development matched adjacent buildings’ scale and height. BSA supported its decision by pointing to the owner’s representation that there was a heavy residential concentration in the neighborhood.

BSA: 500 Canal Street (168-04-BZ) (March 1, 2005) (Jay A. Segal, for Greenwich Triangle). CITYADMIN

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