Zoning Subcommittee Modifies Special Permit for Broome Street Conversion

498 Broome Street. Image credit: Umberto Squarcia Designs, Inc.

498 Broome Street. Image credit: Umberto Squarcia Designs, Inc.

Permit will allow Use Group 2 residential on the third through sixth floors only.  On March 9, 2015 the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises voted to approve a modified special permit for the conversion of 498 Broome Street in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District of Manhattan to Use Group 2 residential.  The approved permit restricts conversion of the building to Use Group 2 residential for only the third through sixth floors, and leaves the cellar, first, and second floors subject to the standing zoning regulation which permit Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists.  The permit as originally requested would have allowed Use Group 2 on portions of the first floor and all of the second through sixth floors.

At the subcommittee hearing Council Member Margaret Chin, whose district includes 498 Broome Street, read a statement prior to the vote.  The Council Member expressed her concerns over developers using special permits as a widespread tool to change SoHo from its current mixed-use status into a residential community, and specifically called out developers who begin work restoring buildings before the permit has been granted.  “I don’t believe developers should continue to presume that they will get permission to change the use of their building from the Council, just because they have approval from [the] Landmarks [Preservation Commission].”  The Council Member recognized the costs associated with restoration of buildings in historic districts, and issues with the JLWQA system as a whole, but stated “I don’t think the solution is to erase the units completely from our historic neighborhood.  I believe it is imperative that we continue to preserve the vibrant mixed-use nature of SoHo, including Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artist units.”

The modified permit was approved by a vote of 5-0, and is scheduled to go before the full Land Use Committee on March 10, 2015.

City Council:  Public Hearing LU 0174-2015 (Mar. 9, 2015).

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

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