New text approved for historic districts

Amended text needed for 85-unit apartment building, 150-space garage to be built on SoHo parking lot. United American Land, LLC applied for a text amendment and three special permits to allow a 137,000-square-foot, mixed-use development on a lot at 311 West Broadway within Manhattan’s SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. The 28,200-square-foot site currently contains a 206-space parking lot and a two-story building.

Before applying to City Planning, United sought Landmarks approval. Landmarks suggested that United eliminate one penthouse completely from the design and setback a second proposed penthouse to avoid a “wedding cake” appearance, 2 CityLand 43 (April 15, 2005), so United redesigned the building to obtain the same amount of floor area. United’s second proposal sought to build 85 residential units in two wings separated by a courtyard and a 150-space public parking garage below ground. The nine-story wing on West Broadway would include local retail and service shops on the ground floor with residential units above. The eight-story wing on Wooster Street would be purely residential. The new design, approved by Landmarks, required a text amendment.

Under the current zoning text, developers of new buildings in historic districts have some flexibility to alter use and bulk by applying for a special permit. To alter a building’s bulk, the site must be vacant or contain only a minor improvement. But because United’s lot contained a two-story building, it failed to qualify for the special permit.

United sought a text amendment so lots like 311 West Broadway, where less than 20 percent of the lot was developed, would qualify for the special permit to alter bulk. United also applied for special permits for the building’s 150-space garage and to allow the mixed retail/residential use in a manufacturing district.

At the February 22nd Commission hearing, attorneys for 309 West Broadway, directly adjacent to United’s site, opposed the development, raising concerns about potential flood hazards and structural impacts to its building due to the depth of the proposed excavation. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s representative, Anthony Borelli, recommended that United eliminate the proposed electronic car stackers, which would reduce the excavation’s depth. Borelli also said that approval should be held until United completed further review of the site’s natural subsurface conditions and submitted its construction protection plan.

Following the hearing, United eliminated the electronic car stackers from the plan. The Commission approved the text amendment and special permits, finding that the project’s size and uses were compatible with the character of the neighborhood and that the development would be harmonious with the historic district. The Commission also said that the opposition’s concerns were adequately addressed.

The text amendment, if approved by City Council, would affect two other sites as well.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec
Comm.Bd.: MN 2, App’d, 32-0-0
Boro. President: App’d
Council: pending

CPC: 311 West Broadway (N 060201 ZRM – text amendment); (C 060202 ZSM – special permit, retail, height, rear yard); (C 060203 ZSM – special permit, garage) (April 5, 2006). CITYADMIN

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