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The City Planning Commission approved on Monday Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to rezone East Harlem. With this crucial approval, the plan moves to the City Council for the last stage of the public review process, which began in April (h/t City Limits). The de Blasio administration’s rezoning efforts, run by the city’s Department of City Planning, aim to create affordable housing, create economic opportunities and restore East Harlem’s role as a major transit hub and job center. Over a decade, the plan hopes to create about 122,000-square-feet of stores and restaurants and 275,000-square-feet of office and industrial space.
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Rendering of L&L Holding Company’s planned rooftop terrace at 390 Madison Avenue
Update 7/31/17: The Post reports that the DOB recently sent landlords a draft memo clarifying that, aside from minor details, terraces are allowed “as open passive recreation space.”
To give workers a comfortable and conducive work space, some companies have outfitted their offices with amenities like on-site fitness centers, free coffee and outdoor space. However, the city’s Department of Buildings has launched a campaign to stop or delay these rooftop terraces on office towers, claiming the spaces can only be used for plants, not people. As the New York Post reported, DOB may not approve office terrace plans and may even rescind already approved plans.
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The City Planning Commission has voted to up the cost of air rights transfers in the special Midtown Manhattan district that includes Broadway’s theaters, The Real Deal reports. Currently, when developers purchase air rights from theaters between West 40th and West 57th Streets from Sixth to Eighth Avenues, they pay $17.60 per square foot to the Theater Subdistrict Fund. Transferable development rights can usually only be used for adjacent properties, but the city created the special district in 1998 to help the theater industry thrive amid sharply rising real estate prices; within the district, air rights can be moved more freely in a larger area outside the usual “arms length” restrictions.
What does this mean for Broadway theaters?
6sqft recently covered the controversial proposal by the Alliance for Downtown New York (ADNY), the Department of City Planning (DCP), and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), to change zoning laws to allow property owners in the Water Street Subdistrict of lower Manhattan–at One New York Plaza, for example–to bring in retail tenants like restaurants and clothing stores in exchange for making improvements and upgrades to the public plazas and arcades adjacent to their buildings. Crains reports that the City Council passed a bill Tuesday that would allow the Financial District landlords to convert the public corridors in front of 20 buildings in the Water Street corridor to retail shops.
The public corridors, which cover ten blocks, were created when the Water Street buildings that abut them were built. Building developers agreed to create the public arcades and walkways in exchange for more buildable square footage.
Whether you consider them “dead-end” corridors devoid of street life or nifty urban shortcuts (or just convenient rain shelters), the city’s covered public walkways and arcades are finding themselves in something of a spotlight, reports the Wall Street Journal.
This recent focus is on the covered walkways that run alongside skyscrapers in the Water Street corridor in lower Manhattan. A proposed zoning change, which would affect property owners in the Water Street Subdistrict, would allow retail to open up shop in these arcades.
Find out why some object to new retail additions
The impetus behind the rezoning plan allowing taller towers in the blocks surrounding Grand Central Terminal – specifically the five blocks of Vanderbilt Avenue from East 42nd Street to East 47th Street – is to keep New York competitive with office development in other major cities like London and Shanghai.
However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the hotel-workers union, which had a key role in the demise of a similar proposal under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has flexed its muscles once again, seeking a concession that would require any new hotels to receive a special permit from the City Planning Commission and the City Council.
More details on the rezoning here