Permit denied illegal Chelsea parking garage

Thirty-two space garage had sought special permit to continue operation. Landowner El-Ad Skyview, LLC sought Planning Commission approval for the continued operation of a 32-space public parking garage on the ground floor and cellar of an existing 12-story residential building located at 151 West 17th Street in Chelsea. The building was constructed in 2001 with an as-of-right, 10-space accessory garage, but has since been operating without a permit as a 32-space public garage. Access to the garage is provided on West 17th Street, which is a one-way, westbound street.

Community Board 4 by letter recommended denial of the permit. The Board claimed that the overcrowded garage space required shifting of cars on West 17th Street and the sidewalk, creating congestion and blocking on-street parking and sidewalks for residents. Because Skyview was operating the garage illegally, the Board recommended that the application be evaluated based on its current problems rather than the Zoning Resolution standards for public parking garages.

At the June 27, 2005 hearing on the project, Skyview said that it had intended to operate a public parking garage since the inception of the project, but the garage operator had failed to seek a special permit. Skyview also said that it ceased the garage operator’s contract immediately upon receiving negative feedback from Community Board 4 and the Borough President. Skyview then presented plans to install safety features in the garage.

In a unanimous vote, the Commission disapproved the application. The Commission noted that the garage’s unusual layout, which resulted in inadequate interior turning radii and unsuitable reservoir space, would create vehicular and pedestrian traffic congestion. The Commission also said that the building’s use as a public garage would exacerbate congestion because public garages typically have more traffic than accessory garages. Commissioner Karen A. Phillips added that while a negative determination for a special permit to legalize use is rare, the Commission should adhere to a policy with respect to when and where to encourage public parking. Commissioner Irwin G. Cantor expressed displeasure with the developer’s apparent bad faith and added that the owner should be aware that it created an impossible access situation.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, acting as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on April 11, 2005.

On June 1, 2005, Community Board 4 voted 31 to 0 to recommend denial of the permit. Borough President C. Virginia Fields recommended approval only if the tenant who had operated the garage illegally was evicted.

Under the City Charter, the permit is not subject to City Council’s review because the permit was denied by City Planning.

CPC: 151 West 17th Street (C 040223 ZSM – special permit for parking garage) (August 24, 2005). CITYADMIN

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