Greenwich/Canal Street project gets 5 variances

Luxury apartments approved once developer reduced the height and size. Red Brick Canal LLC sought approval to construct an 11-story, 25,025-square-foot residential and commercial building at 482 Greenwich Street, a lot with frontage along Greenwich and Canal Streets at the border of Tribeca and SoHo in Manhattan. The project site, a 3,136-square-foot, trapezoidshaped lot located in a commercial zone (C6-2A), currently contains an unused gas station which will be demolished. The City had rezoned the lot from manufacturing (M1-6) in 2003 as part of the Hudson Square rezoning.

Red Brick’s project failed to comply with floor area, height, yard, lot coverage, curb cut and garage size requirements, necessitating variances. Red Brick, represented by Deirdre Carson, argued that the lot’s small size, its unconventional shape, its location within a flood plain, and the need to remediate the soil made an as-of-right project infeasible. Red Brick added that, due to the odd shape of the lot, the units would have greater wall space than floor space, which would diminish the units’ value.

City Planning, Community Board 2 and local resident groups opposed, arguing that the height and size would exceed neighboring buildings. In City Planning’s opinion, the circumstances did not warrant floor area and height exceptions.

During the hearings, BSA expressed serious concerns with the project’s size, explaining that the lot’s conditions failed to justify greater floor area, street wall, and setback variances even though its odd shape might justify some exceptions. BSA doubted that the increased wall space would diminish the units’ value since the building would offer unobstructed views of the city. BSA also questioned Red Brick’s feasibility study, which claimed the apartments would sell for about $1,000 per square foot.

In response, Red Brick pared down the proposal to a 120-foot tall, 20,555-square-foot building, containing 10 luxury apartments and small commercial and community use spaces. The new proposal removed the need for floor area, height, and set back exceptions. Red Brick also submitted a revised feasibility study, which adopted the opposition’s estimated sale price of $1,200 to $1,950 a square foot.

Local residents remained opposed, complaining to BSA that Community Board 2 should hold a second hearing.

Despite Community Board 2’s request, BSA approved the plan, agreeing that the site’s size and unique shape made as-of-right yards, lot coverage and curb cuts impractical since the floor plates would be unusable. BSA, however, denied that the flood plain and soil conditions created a unique hardship since 56 nearby lots faced a similar issue. BSA noted that it had discretion to send an applicant back to the community board, but it was not required by the Charter or BSA rules to do so when a developer reduced a project during the hearing process.

BSA: 482 Greenwich Street (124-05-BZ)(Sept. 12, 2006) (Deirdre A. Carson, Esq., Greenberg Traurig LLP, for Red Brick). CITYADMIN

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