Increased costs justified variance for mid-block site along Broadway. B & E 813 Broadway LLC applied to BSA for a variance to construct an 11- story mixed-use building on Broadway between East 11th and East 12th Streets. The 5,069-square-foot development site consists of two merged lots containing smaller two- and four-story buildings which the developer would demolish to make way for the new 129-foot tall building. The proposed development would exceed floor area, height, setback and dwelling count limits, and lack the required open space.
Community Board 2 and the Tenth Street Block Association both opposed, arguing that an as-of-right development was viable on the Broadway site.
The applicant argued that poor subsurface soil conditions, the site’s small size, the seven-foot proximity to a subway tunnel, and adjacent lot-line walls significantly increased foundation costs, making as-of-right construction infeasible. The applicant further argued that the cost could only be overcome with additional residential FAR since the small size of the development site would produce office floor plates too small to command high rents. The applicant pointed out that the site’s zoning permitted a 30,414 sq. ft. building (6 FAR) that could contain over 17,000 sq. ft. of residential space asof- right. Its plan called for a smaller, 30,123 sq.ft. building with a 6.0 FAR, split into 0.4 commercial FAR and 5.6 residential FAR. The applicant also showed that existing development along Broadway ranges from two to 23 stories without setback.
BSA granted the variance. It noted that several feasibility studies proved that neither strict compliance nor a lesser variance of a ten-story mixed-use building would provide a reasonable return.