Parking garage approved; Council takes review

Special permit for 83-space garage approved over community opposition. Developer 155 West 21st Street LLC sought Planning Commission approval for an 83-space public parking garage within an as-of- right building that it planned to construct on West 21st Street in Chelsea. The 17,000-square-foot garage space would be located on the ground floor, cellar and sub-cellar of the newly constructed 15- story, 109-unit residential building at 155 West 21st Street. It would replace a vacant two-story building and a 35-space parking lot. Access to the garage would be on West 21st Street, a one-way westbound street, 120 feet from Seventh Avenue.

At the June 22, 2005 hearing on the project, the developer accepted Borough President C. Virginia Fields’ recommendation to reserve first right to spaces for the residents of the new development. Community Board 4 by letter recommended denial of the permit. The Board claimed that the developer mis-characterized the area as commercial in nature and underestimated the garage’s traffic impact when it claimed that the site contained a former public parking lot. The Board explained that evaluations of the city’s land use patterns describe the area as densely residential and the former parking lot on the site served taxis, not the public.

Over Commissioner Karen A. Phillips’ vote to disapprove, the Commission approved the parking garage, stressing that the project’s environmental assessment found no significant increase in traffic. To grant the permit, the Commission found that the garage location would draw a minimum of traffic through local streets and would not contribute to serious traffic congestion. The Commission discounted Community Board 4’s concerns, stating that primary access to the garage would be from Sixth Avenue and West 21st Street, both of which are primarily commercial streets.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, acting as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on March 14, 2005.

On May 4, 2005, Community Board 4 voted 27 to 5 to recommend denial of the permit. The Borough President recommended approval if parking spaces were held for the project’s residents and released only after residents rejected their use.

City Council’s review of a special permit is not mandatory under the City Charter. Council Member Christine Quinn requested Council review of the project and, on August 17, 2005, the full Council voted to take review. A public hearing was scheduled for the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee on September 7, 2005.

CPC: 155 West 21st Street (C 040473 ZSM – 83-space parking garage) (July 27, 2005). CITYADMIN

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