Council okays Solow project

Sheldon Solow’s development plan for the former Con Edison site on the East River. Image: DBOX for Solow Management

Four billion dollar project includes over four million sq.ft. of develop-able space. On March 26, 2008, the City Council approved developer Sheldon Solow’s plan to build seven towers on the 9.2-acre, former Con Edison site along the East River, just south of the United Nations, from 35th to 41st Streets. The plan also includes public open space, community facility space, and parking facilities. The Council approved Manhattan Community Board 6’s 197-a plan as well, which covers the Solow site and the surrounding area.

At the Land Use committee’s public hearing, Council Member Daniel Garodnick, who had participated in negotiations involving the proposal and whose district includes the Solow site, announced significant modifications to the project. Solow will reduce the heights of all of the proposed towers on the site’s northern portion. The tallest tower will now be 595 feet, down from the originally proposed 830 feet. Partly to address the community’s concerns over commuter traffic to and from the project’s commercial building, Solow agreed to reduce the number of parking spaces serving the building from 400 to 197, and to deploy an on-site traffic coordinator.

Solow also agreed to a zoning text amendment for an affordable housing plan similar to the Hudson Yards rezoning. The plan will create up to 579 affordable units by offering housing options to low-, moderate-, and middle-income tenants.

Lastly, Garodnick announced modifications to enhance public amenities at the site. An independent not-for-profit group will operate and provide programming for the five acres of public space. Solow will also build a performing arts space on the eastern side of the commercial building and honor an easement to allow a pedestrian bridge over the FDR Drive, from its property to the waterfront, in order to keep alive the possibility of a future waterfront park in the area.

The Council also modified Board 6’s 197-a plan. Board 6 originally requested a special district from 23rd Street to 43rd Street to encourage uses consistent with the Veteran’s, New York University, and Bellevue hospitals. The Planning Commission modified this provision of Board 6’s plan, but the Council reinstated it. Council Member Jessica Lappin, who represents constituents just north of Board 6’s district, lauded Board 6 for “an intelligent and wonderful” plan, and noted that the modifications improve upon it while allowing development to transform the area.

ULURP Process (Solow)
Map Amend.; Spec. Perm.; Text Amend.
Lead Agency: CPC,Pos.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 6,Den’d, 31-3-0
Boro.Pres.:Den’d;Den’d; App’d
CPC: App’d, 10-2-1; 10-2-1; 12-0-1
Council: App’d, 51-0-0

Review Process (Board 6)
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 6,App’d, 36-0-1
Boro.Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 12-0-1
Council: App’d, 51-0-0

Council: East River Realty Co. and First Ave. Properties Dev.; Community Board 6 197-a Plan (Mar. 12, 2008)


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