Retail permit at Broadway/ Houston upheld

Planning Commission upheld on finding of commercial non-viability. Broadway Houston Mack Development LLC proposed a seven-story development at at the corner of 610 Broadway East Houston, replacing an existing car-wash, 150-space parking garage, and a gas station. Mack would also dismantle a grandfathered 2,800 sq.ft. free-standing billboard and replace it with three smaller billboards that individually and collectively would conform in size and location with the current signage law.

The seven-story development was permitted as-of-right; the proposal of ground floor and cellar retail space, however, required a special permit from City Planning. In 2002, Mack applied for the special permit and provided documentation to Planning of its attempts in 2001 and 2002 to lease the space for uses permitted in 610 Broadway’s manufacturing zoning. Mack supplied copies of ads in the The New York Times and The Village Voice, as well as listings with brokers and the City’s Economic Development Corporation.

At the Planning Commission hearing, the attorney for 620 Broadway, an adjacent residential building, claimed that an unidentified person interested in leasing the space for auto-sales, a permitted use, was repeatedly ignored by Mack. The Commission granted the permit, finding that the unidentified person had a financial interest in the free-standing billboard that would be dismantled for the project, and was not a bona fide potential lessee.

In re 620 Broadway Housing Corp. v. Planning Commission, 2004 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 13180, Nov. 9, 2004, (1st Dep’t) (Jack L. Lester, for 620 Broadway; Michael A. Cardozo, Larry A. Sonnenshein, Julian L. Kalkstein, for City Planning; Jeffrey L. Braun, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, for Mack).

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