Waivers Granted to Convert Manufacturing Building to Storage Facility

Paul Selver testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Paul Selver testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

BSA found no reasonable return with a conforming use of the property.  On December 9, 2014 the Board of Standards and Appeals voted to grant the applicant, 290 Dyckman Properties, LLC, three waivers to allow conversion of a former manufacturing building into a self-storage facility.  The building is located at 290 Dyckman Street in Inwood, Manhattan, at the corner of Dyckman Street and Henshaw Street.  The building is two stories covering a lot area of 17,287 square feet, with one hundred feet of frontage along Dyckman Street and one hundred sixty-nine feet of frontage along Henshaw Street.  The proposal would convert the building to a self-storage facility with 34,529 square feet of floor area and 760 storage units.

On April 30, 2014 the Department of Buildings denied the LLC’s application because the proposed facility would cover a portion of the lot zoned R7-2, which does not permit warehouse use.  Buildings also denied on the grounds that the existing loading berth’s vertical clearance does not meet the required fourteen-foot clearance limit, and the proposal would expand a curb cut for a loading dock thirteen feet from the Dyckman-Henshaw intersection.  Zoning regulations prohibit such curb cuts within fifty feet of an intersection.  On May 5, 2014 the LLC applied to the Board for a waiver of these requirements to allow the conversion.

A public hearing was held by the Board on September 16, 2014.  At the hearing, Paul Selver of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP testified for the LLC. Mr. Selver testified that the building has had a history with the Board since operating under nonconforming uses when it was granted a variance in 2000 for a wholesale bakery to operate inside. Board Chair Margery Perlmutter questioned elements of the proposal’s economic study, specifically why the study distinguished the building’s expected financial return as a storage facility from use as a regular commercial use facility. Jack Freeman from J.S. Freeman & Associates answered on behalf of the LLC, arguing to use the building as a standard commercial use facility would involve installing additional infrastructure for utilities that a storage facility does not require, increasing the investment cost.  Jeff Reuben of Philip Habib & Associates testified as to  the traffic study conducted for the proposal. Mr. Reuben testified the expected traffic increase would be slight given the relatively small scale of the building, and congestion was not expected to increase as peak traffic from storage unit customers tended to occur at a different period than the area’s current peak traffic from restaurants and a local Parks Department facility.

On December 9, 2014 the Board voted 4-0 to grant the waiver.

BSA: 290 Dyckman Street, Manhattan (96-14-BZ) (Dec. 9, 2014) (Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, for 290 Dyckman Properties LLC, owner).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

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