On January 3, 2024, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing for an application for a 46-story mixed-use building at 231 East 94th Street in Yorkville. The project site is located mid-block on the north side of East 94th Street between Second and Third Avenues. The applicant is LM East 94th LLC.
The proposed building will have approximately 452 units, with approximately 113 permanently affordable units available under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Option 1, which requires 25 percent of a building’s units to be permanently affordable at 60 percent area median income or less. According to Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine’s recommendation report, the applicant proposed having 68 units at 60 percent area median income and 45 units at 40 percent area median income, however those percentages were not discussed at the City Planning Commission hearing.
Ground floor and cellar space will be available for retail and community uses, but the applicant is still in the process of seeking out prospective tenants for those spaces. The applicants did not specify additional planned amenities for the building.
The requested changes will adjust the zoning from a manufacturing district that does not allow residential uses to commercial districts that permit residential uses. The proposed rezoning area includes seven lots and a portion of another lot, and the project site will sit on three of those lots. The project site consists of a vacant residential building, garage and auto-body shop, which will all be demolished to create the new project. The additional lots included in the proposed rezoning will be transferring air rights to the project site and will not be developed in the future to maintain the open space above the building.
Both Manhattan Community Board 8 and Manhattan Borough President Levine issued conditional favorable recommendations for the project. The community board wanted the proportion of affordable units to be increased to 30 percent, that the building be required to remain a rental building for 15 years, that open space be incorporated onto the site, that 200 parking spaces be retained, that the building’s height be reduced to 355 feet from the planned 484 foot height and that the project rely on union labor or pay prevailing wages.
Borough President Levine disagreed with the Community Board’s request to preserve parking spaces, saying in his recommendation report that “I believe that maximizing space for housing and community facilities should take priority over preserving parking spots. The parking study prepared by the developer shows existing capacity in parking garages within a quarter mile of the site.” He also asked the developer to help the existing garage tenants with finding parking elsewhere and to ensure the bedroom mix reflects the needs of families in the district.
Commissioner Gail Benjamin asked about adjusting the building’s design to a shorter and bulkier building for East 94th Street, which is a narrower street. The applicants discussed buildings in the area of similar heights that extended into mid-block spaces that they believed to be comparable.
Multiple residents testified in opposition to the project. Leo Schaff, a resident of East 95th Street said the project would have a “catastrophic change to the quality of life” to the neighborhood, citing the project’s mid-block location, height and impacts on light and air. Andrew Ellis, another local resident, also testified in opposition, saying he generally supports development if it is done in a responsible way, but that this project is too tall and not characteristic of the surrounding area. He believed it would set a bad precedent to build something so large mid-block on a secondary street. Brian Logan, a resident of East 95th Street and an attorney who represents his domestic partner who owns a co-op, testified that the environmental impact statement is “woefully incomplete” because it is missing project history and has blank information. According to Mr. Logan, the developers had been negotiating with the co-op boards on East 95th Street to sell air rights but the developers recently stopped negotiating, and he argued the project would be a taking of their air rights.
A representative from 32BJ testified in support of the project due to the developer’s commitment to good-paying jobs for the permanent service workers in the building.
The City Planning Commission will vote on the project at a later date.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)