Proposed Special Hudson Square District Begins Review

Boundary map for Special Hudson Square District

Trinity Church proposed that 18 blocks be rezoned to allow residential uses and accommodate the Church’s future development project near Duarte Square. On August 20, 2012, the City Planning Commission certified Trinity Church’s proposal to create the Special Hudson Square District in Manhattan. The Special District would include 18 blocks generally bounded by West Houston and Canal Streets, Avenue of the Americas, and Greenwich Street. Trinity Church controls approximately 39 percent of the lot area within the proposed Special District. The area’s M1-6 zoning permits manufacturing and commercial uses, but prohibits residential uses and does not set maximum building heights. The stated goals of the Special District include permitting the expansion and new development of residential, commercial, and community facility uses while promoting the retention of commercial and light manufacturing uses.

Under the proposal, the area’s underlying M1-6 zoning would remain, but the Special District regulations would permit residential uses, provide incentives to create affordable housing, and establish building height limits and setback requirements to reinforce existing neighborhood character. The Special District would include a residential development goal of approximately 2,200 new residential units. The proposal would also establish two subdistricts with individually tailored regulations in the southern portion of the Special District.

The Special District’s maximum floor area ratio would be 10.0 for non-residential uses and 9.0 for residential uses (up to 12.0 through inclusionary housing bonuses). Building heights would be set at a maximum of 185 feet on narrow streets and 320 feet on wide streets, which include Avenue of the Americas, and Greenwich, Hudson, Varick, and Canal Streets. New residential development proposed on lots with existing buildings containing at least 70,000 sq.ft. of floor area would only be permitted if the new development replaced the non-residential floor area contained in the existing building. Ground floor retail space would be limited to 10,000 sq.ft. to restrict big-box stores, and bars and restaurants with a capacity of more than 200 people would need a special permit from the Board of Standards & Appeals. Developers would need a special permit from the Planning Commission to build a hotel with more than 100 rooms unless the Special District’s residential development goal had been met.

The proposal would designate one block located at the southern tip of the Special District as Subdistrict A. The area is bounded by Grand Street, Canal Street, Avenue of the Americas, and Varick Street, and includes a vacant lot owned by Trinity Church and the Parks Department-controlled Juan Pablo Duarte Square Park. Subdistrict A’s regulations were tailored to accommodate Trinity Church’s future redevelopment of the vacant lot. The regulations would allow for a 430-foot-tall building that would also include a public school component. The public school would be exempt from the floor area limits. The inclusionary housing program would not apply to Subdistrict A.

Subdistrict B would cover portions of four blocks centered at the intersection of Broome and Varick Streets. This area is near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel and features several Federal-style rowhouses. The proposed regulations were designed to discourage the demolition of existing buildings and preserve the area’s low-scale character. The maximum floor area ratio within Subdistrict B would be 6.0 for commercial and manufacturing uses, 6.5 for community facility uses, and 5.4 for residential uses (up to 7.2 through inclusionary housing bonuses). Maximum building heights would be set at 120 feet, with a required setback at 85 feet.

The Planning Commission referred the certified application to Manhattan Community Board 2, which has until October 29, 2012 to review the proposal.

 CPC: Special Hudson Square District Certification (C 120380 ZMM – rezoning); (N 120381 ZRM – text amendment) (August 20, 2012).

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