Planning Commission Approves Retail Use in Canal Street Ground Floor

361 Canal Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Image Credit: GoogleMaps

The City Planning Commission approved the conversion of a Canal Street ground floor into retail use. On April 26, 2017, the City Planning Commission issued a favorable report on an application from Canal Associates, LP, a subsidiary of United American Land, owner of 361 Canal Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The application sought a special permit to exempt the location from certain requirements of Section 42-14D(2)(b) of the Zoning Resolution to allow for the conversion of the cellar and the ground floor of the existing five-story building into retail use.

The five-story building has been under the jurisdiction of the Loft Board since 1983 when the owner registered the building to lawfully convert the second, third, fourth and fifth floors to residential use. The top four floors currently contain four Interim Multiple Dwelling units, while the ground floor and cellar have been vacant since May 2015. The building is located in an M1-5B district, which does not permit as-of-right retail uses on the ground floor. The application requested a special permit to convert 1,181 square feet on the ground floor and 1,240 square feet in cellar to retail use.

On February 16, 2017, Manhattan Community Board 2 voted 32-0 to disapprove the application unless four conditions were met. First, the Board insisted that the applicant ensure that the intent of the project is to complete the legalization of all uses in the building, including its current alternation permit work that includes alterations that change use, egress or occupancy. Second, that the legalization work will proceed in a timely fashion and that upon leaving the Loft Board’s jurisdiction that the units are properly registered. Third, that filings with Buildings include all work needed for a permanent Certificate of Occupancy for the entire building. Fourth, that upon filing for such work, that the application request from the Loft Board a Letter of No Objection.

On March 17, 2017, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued her recommendation to approve the application but also in support of the Community Board’s condition that the owners complete the legalization of all units in a timely fashion, obtain a permanent Certificate of Occupancy for the entire building and seek a Letter of No Objection from the Loft Board.

In its report, the Commission found the application for the special permit to be appropriate. The Commission remarked that the “building was originally built to include a storefront on the ground floor, which historically housed retail and other commercial uses.” The report found that the proposed retail use would be consistent with the character of Canal Street.

The application will move to the City Council for consideration in the coming weeks.

CPC: 361 Canal Street, Manhattan (C 170236 ZSM) (April 26, 2017).

By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).

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