New manufacturing district created for Midtown

New zoning district created to protect existing commercial uses will also facilitate private developer’s mixed-use project. On September 21, 2011, the City Council approved the Department of City Planning’s proposal to create the new M1- 6D manufacturing zoning district. The Council also approved an accompanying proposal by Edison Properties to apply the new M1-6D district to the mid-block portions of two blocks bounded by West 28th and West 30th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The rezoning will facilitate Edison Properties’ proposed two-building mixed-use project on a through-block lot at 249 West 28th Street.

Planning proposed creating the new M1-6D zoning district after Edison Properties expressed interest in redeveloping its property with a residential use prohibited by the area’s M1-5 zoning regulations.

The area was once part of the City’s industrial center and home to a thriving fur industry. Over the years, the area transitioned from manufacturing and production uses into commercial office uses. The rezoning area is characterized by parking lots and a lack of ground floor retail. Recent development in the area includes hotels lacking the setbacks and articulations of the remaining pre-war buildings. Planning proposed the M1-6D district to establish use and bulk regulations that would protect existing office and light industrial uses and encourage new development that would reflect the area’s architectural character. 

As initially proposed, the M1- 6D district’s regulations would have required that existing non-residential floor area be maintained on zoning lots with buildings containing at least 50,000 sq. ft. of total floor area. The new district would permit residential uses, and to encourage retail uses, developers would be required to provide retail space along 50 percent of the ground floor frontage on lots with at least 50 feet of frontage. The M1-6D district’s bulk regulations would require that new buildings be built to the street line to maintain a uniform streetwall. The district would establish a maximum base height and require setbacks as the building approached the district’s new building height limits.

Edison Properties plans to replace a 131-space parking lot and a four-story 240-space parking garage along West 28th Street with two twenty-story buildings. One building will face West 28th Street and the other will face West 29th Street. A central courtyard will separate the buildings. The mixed-use project will provide 407 units of mixed-income housing and a 325-space underground parking garage.

Manhattan Community Board 5 and Borough President Scott M. Stringer generally supported the proposal, but requested that the threshold for requiring the replacement of non-residential floor area be lowered from 50,000 to 40,000 sq.ft. of existing floor area.

At the City Planning Commission’s public hearing in July 2011, representatives from CB 5 and Stringer’s office reiterated their recommendations. The Commission accepted the recommendation to lower the threshold to 40,000 square feet. The Commission noted that at the lower threshold for replacing non-residential floor area more than 80 percent of existing commercial space within the new district would be subject to the replacement requirement.

At the City Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, Council Member Leroy Comrie expressed concern about the project’s impact on parking availability. Citing Edison Properties’ proposal and other recent projects such as Gotham Center in Long Island City that reduced required parking, Comrie argued that the City needed the maximum amount of public parking and that eliminating parking while increasing density was “bad city planning.”

The Subcommittee unanimously approved the proposal, as did the Land Use Committee and the full Council.

ULURP Process

Lead Agency: CPC, Cond. Neg. Dec.
Comm. Bd.: MN 5, App’d, 36-0-1
Boro. Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 10-0-1
Council: App’d, 50-0-0

Council: M1-6D/West 28th Street Rezoning (September 21, 2011).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.