Proposed zoning protections expect to preserve the residential area between Union Square and Astor Place from rapid developments. On February 28, 2018, Manhattan Community Board 3 unanimously voted to include proposed zoning protections for the 3rd/4th Avenue corridors between East 8th and 14th Streets in Manhattan. The corridors are one of the areas between Union Square and Astor Place that will be impacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Tech Hub Plan. The protections are one of the conditions for approval of the 14th Street Tech Hub. The plan calls for the development of a 21-story tech hub at 124 East 14th Street, currently the P.C. Richard & Son building.
Last month, Mayor de Blasio filed a rezoning application, which would rezone the areas of 124 E. 14th Street and 113 E. 13th Street, currently zoned for commercial use, to allow more space for redevelopment. The rezoning will allow for residential, commercial, and community facility uses. The plan calls for the demolition and redevelopment of the P.C. Richard & Son building. The Tech Hub will include office spaces, community event spaces, and retail spaces. The proposed rezoning will give developers the opportunity to develop properties such as tech office high rises, luxury condo-towers, and hotels in the area.
Community groups are wary that the area will be vulnerable to rapid development. Community groups like Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation believe the rezoning poses a risk to the predominately residential character of the neighborhood and spaces for affordable housing. The community groups believe the rezoning will call for the demolition of the neighborhood walk-ups and the development of hotels, bars, and office spaces in replacement.
In response, community groups proposed the zoning protections to the Community Board. The Community Board recommended the zoning protections by urging the City to “commence the process of rezoning this area as well as incentivize affordable housing and exclude certain use groups such as hotels and big box stores.” According to the Department of City Planning, this would trigger an additional ULURP application in addition to the Tech Hub Plan.
The zoning protections aim to protect the character of the neighborhood and encourage and maintain socioeconomic diversity while promoting opportunities for affordable housing. Andrew Berman, the Executive Director of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, stated during the Community Board meeting that the protections will not endanger the Tech Hub, and any other zoning changes the Board is seeking would help protect the neighborhood.
The community groups are working with elected officials to ensure that protections are included in the Tech Hub Plan. The community groups are currently urging their members to reach out to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to include the proposed protections in her recommendation for the 14th Street Tech Hub. They are also working with City Council Member Carlina Rivera to ensure City Council approves the protections.
The proposal will next be heard by the Borough President. After the Borough President makes her recommendations, the proposal will go to the City Planning Commission, which will hold a public hearing and vote on the proposal. The proposal will then go to the City Council for final approval.
To read the Mayor’s rezoning application for the 14th Street Tech Hub, click here.
By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw Intern and a New York Law School Student, Class of 2019.)