HPD-sponsored project will create 600 permanently affordable housing units, convert P.S. 51 into residential housing,and build a new school on the project site. On March 3, 2010, the City Council approved the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s proposal to allow the Gotham Organization Inc. to develop a 1.15 million sq.ft. mixed-use project that will occupy most of the block between West 44th and 45th Streets and Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Manhattan. The project site is currently occupied by two parking lots, Shamrock Stables, a vacant warehouse, and P.S. 51, a 276-seat elementary school. An open rail cut with below-grade tracks used by Amtrak’s Empire Line occupies the site’s easternmost portion. In 2001, the City’s Economic Development Corporation proposed to construct a television production facility, known as Studio City, but the project never materialized.
Gotham will build four residential structures on the site and convert P.S. 51 into a residential building. The School Construction Authority will build a 631-seat public school to the south of the existing school, which will front West 44th Street and be partially funded by Gotham. The entire project will provide approximately 1,250 residential units, 600 of which will be permanently affordable.
On the site’s Eleventh Avenue western edge, Gotham will develop a residential building with a seven-story base that wraps around West 44th and 45th Streets and a tower that rises up to 31 stories. Twenty percent of the building’s 675 units will be offered as affordable housing. Gotham will build a mid-block, fourteen-story building fronting West 44th and 45th Streets comprised entirely of affordable units. Two fourteen-story buildings to the east of P.S. 51 will be located on a platform built over the Amtrak rail tracks. Both buildings will be entirely affordable housing. Gotham will convert P.S. 51 into market-rate residential housing after it has completed all of the new construction and the School Construction Authority has completed the new school.
In support of the project HPD submitted multiple applications, including requests to dispose of City-owned property and to rezone the western edge of the site from M1-5 to R10 and the mid-block portion to R8. The Inclusionary Housing Program provisions will now apply to the portion of the site rezoned to R10.
At the City Planning Commission’s hearing, teachers and parents of P.S. 51 students asked that rooftop recreational space be added to the new school because part of P.S. 51’s current playground space would be lost to the project. The Commission approved the plan with modifications, including restricting the disposition to the current project as proposed in order to prevent future inappropriately- scaled development.
At the Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, Melissa Pianko, vice president of development at Gotham, noted that Gotham will contribute $20 million to build affordable housing elsewhere in Manhattan and $15 million to help cover the cost of the new school’s construction. Residents with children at P.S. 51 supported the creation of a new school facility, but reiterated their concerns that it needed additional recreational space. Chair Mark Weprin explained that the proposed school was not part of the proposal being considered and that it would be considered as part of a separate application.
The Subcommittee unanimously approved the proposal, and the Land Use Committee and the full Council followed suit.
Comm.Bd.: MN 4,App’d, 35-0-0
CPC: App’d, 13-0-0
Council: App’d, 49-0-2
Council: West 44th Street/11th Avenue (C 100051 ZMM – rezoning); (N 100052 ZRM – text amend.); (C 100053 ZSM – spec. perm.); (C 100054 ZSM – spec. perm.); (C 100055 HAM – UDAAP) (March 3, 2010) (Architects: SLCE Architects).