Two Tribeca variances OK’d: BSA adopts Comm Bd.’s advice

Tribeca residents ask BSA to reduce the size of this development proposed for 415 Washington Street. Image Courtesy of the Office of Joseph Pell Lombardi, Architect.

Two private developers applied to BSA for variances to build residential buildings on manufacturingzoned lots in Tribeca. At 415 Washington Street, Joseph Pell Lombardi applied to construct a nine-story, 56,010-square-foot residential building with a 6.02 FAR, exceeding floor area limits and necessitating a use variance. Located within the Tribeca North Historic District, the plan required Landmarks’ approval, which it granted in August 2006. 3 CityLand 125 (Sept. 15, 2006). Lombardi argued that as-of-right construction was infeasible due to high construction costs caused by the site’s location within a flood plain. The site has weak sandy soil, requires soil remediation and the developer must maintain support walls for adjacent buildings. Lombardi estimated that the site’s conditions would increase development costs by $1.9 million.

Tribeca residents and Community Board 1 opposed, arguing that the site’s construction difficulties failed to justify the large building size. The opposition requested that the building be limited to 46,520 sq.ft. (5 FAR). Lombardi submitted a revised proposal of 51,172 sq.ft. (5.5 FAR) and an analysis showing that a smaller building would be infeasible.

BSA accepted the community’s recommendation, limiting the final building size to 46,520 sq.ft. BSA disagreed with Lombardi that a larger proposal would represent the minimum variance needed to make development possible on the 9,304- square-foot site. BSA found the proposed height, street wall massing, and use to be compatible with adjacent buildings.

At 471 Washington Street on the south side of Canal Street, Peter Moore Associates sought to construct a nine-story residential building with ground floor retail and seven dwelling units on a 5,837- square-foot lot. The 29,118-squarefoot, 124-foot tall building would replace a parking lot with an advertising billboard.

Moore argued that the sixsided lot’s location within a high hazard flood plain and its small size increased construction costs. The irregular shape would require a high ratio of exterior walls to usable interior space, raising costs and lowering returns. Additionally, the small lot size required a higher than normal percentage of the square footage to be devoted to the building core. Extra foundation work further increased costs. BSA agreed, finding that, in the aggregate, the conditions created a hardship.

BSA: 415 Washington Street (128-06- BZ) (Mar. 13, 2007) (Juan D. Reyes III, for Lombardi); BSA: 471 Washington Street (181-06-BZ) (Feb. 13, 2007) (Greenberg Traurig, for Moore). CITYADMIN

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