Parking garage approved; Stringer raises issues

Special permit for 174-space garage approved over new Borough President’s objections. Continental Residential Holdings, LLC applied to the Planning Department for a special permit to allow for a 174- space attended public parking garage within its new, as-of-right 41-story residential building at 325 Fifth Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets in Manhattan. Although the building is located in a predominantly commercial area one block south of the Empire State Building, in recent years the area has seen residential development grow. Continental agreed to give building residents priority over parking spaces and to contact DOT about implementing a signal timing modification at Madison Avenue and 32nd Street during peak hours to address potential traffic congestion.

At the hearing on the project, Borough President Scott Stringer’s representative spoke in opposition of the permit, explaining that this was Stringer’s first opportunity to request that the Planning Department, along with the Borough President’s office, review the current zoning policy for public parking garage applications south of 110th Street. Continental stated that the proposed garage met the zoning resolution requirements and noted that in the past the Commission had approved public parking on the site. The Commission acknowledged Stringer’s desire for a more comprehensive parking plan, but stated that his dissatisfaction with the current system did not justify denial of Continental’s application. The Commission granted the special permit, finding that the signal modifications would address traffic concerns raised by the environmental review.

ULURP Process: The Planning Department issued a conditional negative declaration. Community Board 5 recommended approval. On January 17, 2006, newly elected Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recommended disapproval, commenting that Continental had demonstrated no unusual circumstances to justify special consideration, and urged the Planning Department to develop comprehensive guidelines to describe the conditions which would deserve consideration of new parking facilities in Manhattan.

CPC: 325 Fifth Avenue Garage (C 050257 ZSM) (February 22, 2006). CITYADMIN

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