Before reaching the City Council, the project received mixed support over concerns that the area was ill-equipped for the increased density. On June 26, 2019, City Council voted to approve with modifications an application that would help implement a major City-initiated plan to redevelop Staten Island’s Bay Street Corridor, which connects the St. George, Tompkinsville, and Stapleton neighborhoods. The comprehensive plan will redevelop the Bay Street Corridor into a walkable, transit-oriented community that provides housing, jobs, and local businesses. The plan had been in the making for over four years and is the result of a coordinated effort among various City agencies and the community. The development is projected to bring 1,000 new jobs, 1,300 new affordable homes, investments in parks, schools and sewers, and a new recreation center. To help implement the plan, the Department of City Planning, the Department of Administrative Services, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development brought several actions subject to the public review process, ULURP. To read CityLand’s coverage on the earlier stages of the public review process, click here.
The ULURP application included a rezoning of an approximately 14-block stretch of Bay Street and a two-block stretch of Canal Street; zoning text amendments to impose Mandatory Inclusionary Housing with all four MIH Options; approval for the disposition of a City-owned property at 55 Stuyvesant Street; and an Urban Development Action Area designation and project approval for the Jersey Street sanitation garage. The applicants also sought to create a new Special Bay Street Corridor District that would impose special use and building envelope requirements for the area.
Throughout the public review process, residents cited increased traffic, an increase in the number of students in the schools, sewage issues, open space issues, displacement of existing residents, and lack of affordable housing as top concerns. The City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR), which assesses how new development will impact an area, revealed that 1,700 residents in the area would be at risk of displacement.
On May 14, 2019, the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a public hearing on the application. Subcommittee Chair Francisco Moya and Council Member Debi Rose, who represents the district, asked the applicant team to provide greater detail on supportive strategies that the City agencies were putting in place to implement the Bay Street Corridor Neighborhood Plan. Executive Director of the Department of City Planning Anita Laremont, Staten Island Borough Director Chris Hadwin, HPD’s Simon Kawitzky, and others testified favorably on the application.
The discussion focused on inter-agency coordination to address traffic mitigation, prioritizing use of City-owned properties to provide 100 percent affordable housing, parks and open space improvements, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Options, and the addition of school seats. The City officials shared that the plan will bring 12 acres of open space to the Stapleton Waterfront with $8 million being invested into the Stapleton playground to provide new equipment and amenity space. The City engaged the Department of Small Business Services to identify challenges and opportunities along the Bay Street Corridor to support local businesses. Officials also shared that the City is focusing on improving the existing transportation network and increasing pedestrian, cyclist and commuter access and on promoting alternate modes of transportation. The recently-announced expansion of ferry service from Staten Island’s St. George Terminal to Battery Park City and Midtown underscores the importance of developing this connecting area.
On June 11, 2019, the Council Subcommittee voted to approve the application with modifications. First, the subcommittee removed two of the four MIH Options, determining that MIH Option 1, which requires a 25 percent set-aside to households earning at an average of 60 percent of AMI, and Option 3, which requires a 20 percent set-aside for households earning at an average of 40 percent of AMI, would provide the deepest affordability. The Council also modified the proposed building envelope regulations to require building heights in certain areas to more closely reflect the local neighborhood character. Specifically, the Council modified the building envelope regulations in Subdistricts A and D of the new Special Bay Street Corridor District and created two new sub-areas within Subdistrict D to establish locally appropriate height, density, and building set-back rules. The Council also modified use regulations for existing public transportation facilities and bulk regulations to accommodate a Department of Education school at the Special Stapleton Waterfront District. In response to the hearing, the City Council also received from HPD a revised project summary for the development of the Jersey Street sanitation garage, which clarified that the site would be 100 percent affordable with 223 units, 90 of which would be set aside for seniors.
The application was approved by the full City Council on June 26, 2019. Councilmember Rose shared accomplishments of the public review process and provided an update on the additional commitments made by the City toward the project.
Rose shared that overall, $250 million of public investment was secured as part of the plan, which was in addition to the $1 billion already being invested into the area around the Bay Street Corridor. Some of the added Commitments by the City are outlined here. First, the School Construction Authority committed to building another elementary school at the old Hungerford schools site at 155 Tompkins Avenue, and to build a new annex for Staten Island’s PS-13 elementary to provide additional school seats. These will be in addition to the new school that will be built at the Stapleton Waterfront, bringing close to 1800 new school seats to the area. Second, $90 million was secured for the reconstruction of the Cromwell Recreation Center. Third, rental assistance vouchers will be provided to help move 100 homeless families and individuals out of shelters and into affordable housing. Fourth, $75 million will be invested toward the 12-acre waterfront to include amenities, playgrounds, basketball courts, and comfort stations. Fifth, $60 million was secured for sewer infrastructure improvements. To read the full list of commitments and planned improvements for the area, click here.
By: Viktoriya Gray (Viktoriya is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018).