Owner wins right to complete construction

City designated lot to become part of Hudson Boulevard and city park. Affirmation Arts Ltd. received building and demolition permits in 2004 to add an additional story and mezzanine totaling 3,206 sq.ft. to the three-story building at 523 West 37th Street. In January 2005, before Affirmation finished the work, the City approved the Hudson Yards rezoning, its massive land use initiative for Manhattan’s west side.

Under the Hudson Yards rezoning, Affirmation’s lot at West 37th Street, located between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, was to become part of the City’s proposed new street, Hudson Boulevard, as well as new park space. The new Hudson Boulevard will extend from West 33rd to West 38th Streets between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues and will have two 50-foot wide roadways separated by a linear park containing green spaces, seating, playgrounds and restaurants. 1 CityLand 36 (Dec. 2004). The City would acquire Affirmation’s lot as part of Phase 2 of the City’s park and boulevard plan, which is planned to commence in 2012.

The Hudson Yard text prohibits all new development or building enlargements on Phase 2 lots starting on the date of the rezoning’s enactment in January 2005, but it provides a one-year window to complete work if construction started prior to the rezoning’s approval. Affirmation failed to finish the work in the one-year window so it filed two applications with BSA to continue work, arguing that it had a vested right to complete the enlargement and it satisfied the zoning resolution’s provision allowing continued construction.

Affirmation claimed to have spent $6.5 million, roughly 82 percent of the over $7.7 million construction cost and explained that the remaining work included adding stairs, finishing the roof, installing the building skin and completing carpentry. BSA asked how much of the total cost related only to construction of new floor area and Affirmation estimated that amount at $2.4 million, adding that it had already spent $2 million.

BSA granted a six-month extension, finding that Affirmation had a vested right to continue. Affirmation withdrew its second application based on the zoning resolution since it would not allow Affirmation enough time to complete its construction.

BSA: 523 West 37th Street (371-05-A) (April 11, 2006) (Kramer Levin, for Affirmation Arts Ltd.). CITYADMIN

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