Hudson Square rezoning compromise passes Council

Last minute compromise worked out by Speaker Quinn. The City Council voted on July 23, 2008 to approve the rezoning proposal of KMG Greenwich LLC after Speaker Christine Quinn, who represents the district, worked out a last-minute agreement with the developer.

KMG’s original application sought to rezone over five blocks of the manufacturing-zoned Hudson Square to a zoning which would permit residential construction as-of-right. On KMG’s lots, the plan will facilitate conversion of the vacant building at 627 Greenwich Street to 41 apartments and new construction of a 20-unit residential building at 623 Greenwich Street.

The proposal faced opposition from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Board 2, and the local community, which called it a piecemeal rezoning that would result in the loss of needed jobs and businesses. 5 CityLand 56 (May 15, 2008). The City Planning Commission modified the proposal, removing over three full City blocks from the plan. KMG’s lots remained within the proposed rezoned area that reached City Council for a vote.

On July 23, the Council’s Land Use Committee called a special meeting to vote on KMG’s proposal in time for it to reach the full Council’s meeting that afternoon. Opening the meeting, Chair Melinda Katz stated that Quinn had worked out an agreement with KMG and the community board that morning, requiring 25,000 sq.ft. of commercial space within KMG’s development, 25,000 sq.ft. of open space, and a commitment to make 20 percent of the units affordable.

Council Member Charles Barron then urged a no-vote, arguing for more time for community review. According to Barron, the community wanted 40,000 sq.ft. of open space and a greater commitment of affordable housing than that morning’s agreement reflected.

Echoing Barron, Council Member Tony Avella said “the community has been dead set against this project from the beginning,” and called the rezoning proposal an “example of planning from the top down, not the bottom up.”

Katz then commented that every project results in compromises, adding that, with the KMG rezoning, “Quinn made a judgment call.” Katz urged the committee to approve.

The Land Use Committee approved with only Avella and Barron voting no. When it reached the full Council that afternoon, only Avella and Barron remained opposed to the project.

Council: Hudson Square North Rezoning (July 23, 2008).

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