City Planning Approves Conversion of JLWQA Building

A proposed restoration of 102 Greene Street would restore the missing top two floors, but remove rent protections for artists. Image credit: CityLand

City Planning Commission approved a special permit for 102 Greene Street that will restore the missing top two floors, but remove the building’s JLWQA designation . Image credit: CityLand

CPC vote allows building renovation and conversion to residential use.  On January 21, 2015 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to grant a special permit to 102 Greene Owner LLC for the renovation of 102 Greene Street in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District.  The renovation will add two floors to the building and restore a cast-iron façade, but remove the building’s Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists (JLWQA) designation and re-designate it as Use Group 2 residential.  An initial public hearing on the application was held on December 3, 2014.

In its final report, the Commission emphasized the particular tenant situation of 102 Greene, pointing out no certified artists had occupied the JLWQA units since at least 2006, despite the applicant advertising the spaces as “artist lofts” to try and bring in artist tenants.  The Commission used this point to preclude future applicants from interpreting the decision as a general policy, writing “The Commission believes that the special permits are appropriate in such circumstances where it has been demonstrated that JLWQA tenants have not been actively displaced from their units and where the Owner has demonstrated a prior, unsuccessful effort to market such units to JLWQA tenants. … [A]pproval of such applications…should not be viewed as a signal of an abandonment of the current zoning framework.  This special permit mechanism cannot be a vehicle by which tenants…are removed from their live-work spaces to permit conversion to residential use.”

The Commission declined Manhattan Community Board 2’s request to restrict some of the final housing units in 102 Greene as affordable housing, citing the applicable zoning permits a range of uses from JLWQA to office or manufacturing use, and it was inappropriate to restrict the building to a subset of allowable uses.  Further, the Commission wrote the building’s existing units were too few to be managed in existing affordability programs.

At the vote, Commissioner Michelle De La Uz thanked all parties involved for a “very robust conversation”, saying it led to positive internal conversations regarding JLWQA housing in SoHo.

CPC: 102 Greene Greet (140353-ZSM) (Jan. 21, 2015).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

One thought on “City Planning Approves Conversion of JLWQA Building

  1. So the commission has removed the JLWQA designation, why? It was a live & work situation. As long as it met codes for living and as long as the work portion didn’t include anything truly hazardous like welding, what would the harm have been to let the JLWQA stand? Frankly, in today’s economy I would suspect there is a whole lot of live work going on. If they want to go after something that really needs regulation, start with Air B&B.

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