gale brewer

Policy

NYC Council votes to close mechanical void loophole

By Devin Gannon, Thu, May 30, 2019

Rendering of 50 West 66th Street; courtesy of Binyan Studios/ Snøhetta

The New York City Council on Wednesday voted to close a zoning loophole that has allowed developers to fill multiple floors of a tower with mechanical equipment without counting the floors as part of the building. The so-called mechanical void loophole enabled taller residential towers, and therefore higher, more expensive units, without actually creating more housing. The amendment approved by the Council will count mechanical voids taller than 25 feet as zoning floor area, as Crain’s reported.

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affordable housing, New Developments, Nolita

Haven Green, Curtis + Ginsberg, Elizabeth Street Garden, senior housing Nolita

Rendering courtesy of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects

Update 3/6/19: The Elizabeth Street Garden (ESG) and the garden’s creator Allan Reiver filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the city and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to challenge the development of Haven Green. 

The plan to build an affordable senior housing development at the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden in Nolita got a much-needed push forward on Tuesday after receiving approval from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. In December 2017, the city revealed plans for Haven Green, a passive house with units reserved for seniors earning between roughly $20,000 and $40,000 to be built on the site of the park. Elizabeth Street Garden advocates are fighting the city’s plan to demolish the one acre of green space to make way for affordable housing and are taking legal action to save the park.

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Policy, Transportation

Photo via Flickr

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority currently claims that 114 of its 427 stations—or 24 percent—are accessible. But a new study led by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office shows otherwise. A team of staffers surveyed 42 of the stations that the MTA deems accessible, visiting each station on four separate days at different times of the day. Based on complaints and conversations with advocates, they assessed elevator accessibility, station signage, and features for vision-impaired riders. As Curbed first reported, their findings show that an already sub-par statistic is actually inflated.

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Chinatown, Lower East Side, Major Developments, Policy

two bridges, nyc development, handel architects

Via Handel Architects

During a City Planning Commission hearing on Wednesday, local residents and officials of the Two Bridges community voiced their strong opposition to four towers planned for the Lower Manhattan neighborhood. Those who testified against the buildings questioned the developer’s draft environmental impact study (DEIS), which found the projects would not cause displacement, amNY reported. Developers also announced measures to mitigate the potential adverse effects on the neighborhood, which include upgrading the F train station at East Broadway, improving public parks, and implementing flood protection measures.

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Landscape Architecture, Meatpacking District, Policy

Rendering via Pier55, Inc

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer appointed Douglas Durst on Friday to the board of the Hudson River Park Trust, a group he has frequently criticized over their proposed Pier55 project. Durst admitted last year to funding a lawsuit to stop the trust’s plan for an off-shore park on the Hudson River. While billionaire businessman Barry Diller, who is funding the $250 million project, halted construction in September, the plan was restored a month later, with pressure and financial help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Brewer told Crain’s that Durst didn’t volunteer, she asked him to join the board. “I think he loves the park,” she said.

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Chinatown, Lower East Side, Policy

247 cherry street

Rendering of 247 Cherry Street via SHoP Architects

In an effort to slow construction of three residential towers in the Two Bridges neighborhood, City Council Member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will submit an application to the Department of City Planning that forces the plan to go through the city’s land use review process. Developments at the waterfront site include a 1,000+ foot tower from JDS Development Group, a 1.1 million-square-foot development from L+M Development and CIM Group, and a 724-foot rental building from Starrett Development. According to Politico, the Manhattan pols hope the review process will encourage public scrutiny of the projects, including a demand for shorter structures.

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New Developments, Sutton Place 

New rendering of the entrance to 430 East 58th Street, also known as Sutton 58. Photo: Thomas Juul-Hansen

In what they’re calling an “unprecedented citizens’ application,” the East River 50s Alliance, a Sutton Place/Midtown community group, has mounted a renewed campaign to oppose an 800-foot tall condo tower that’s rising at 430 East 58th Street, the Wall Street Journal reports. As 6sqft previously reported, the developers of the new tower, Gamma Real Estate, closed on the $86 million site earlier this year in a bankruptcy sale and hired Danish-born architect Thomas Juul-Hansen to design the new skyscraper. The group has filed an application for a zoning change that calls for a ban on tall towers in a 10-square-block area; developers regularly file for zoning changes that cover only the property they’re looking to build on.

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affordable housing, Chelsea, Flatiron, Policy

42 West 18th Street, adorama, affordable housing

The New York Times reports on what is looking like the first of many fights involving the mayor’s new mandatory inclusionary housing (M.I.H.) program which went into effect earlier this year. While the project, a 17-story condominium slated to replace a Manhattan parking lot and two low-rise buildings–one of which houses the venerable Adorama camera store–may not be especially noteworthy, as one of the first developments that may use the new zoning/housing rules, the outcome has the potential to affect thousands of lower-income units in the future. So it’s worth following the outcome, even though, as City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod puts it, “like any legislative action, it will take time for every scenario to play out.”

What’s the battle all about?

Major Developments, Midtown West

Port Authority Bus Terminal

A request to put the brakes on a $10 billion plan for a new West Side bus terminal and rethink the process with more input from local officials and the public was rebuffed by the Port Authority chairman, reports Crain’s. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were joined by Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly members Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal and Councilman Corey Johnson in backing the effort to slow the Port Authority’s call to move ahead with a design competition to get ideas for the West Side plan.

The controversy emerged after a board meeting on Thursday. “We’re not going to defer the design and deliverability study,” was the reply from John Degnan, the New Jersey-appointed chairman, amid concerns that the new terminal will necessitate the seizure of private property using eminent domain, threaten area homes, small businesses and other organizations and belch more carbon from a larger fleet of buses into the air in an area that already “runs afoul of federal air-quality standards.”

Find out what the fuss is all about

City Living, Financial District, Policy, Urban Design

Water Street POPS, Alliance for Downtown New York, Jessica Lappin, Financial District, Water Street Arcade, Community Board 1, MAS, Zoning Proposal, Department of City Planning, Water Street Subdistrict, Rudin Management Co., RXR Realty, Brookfield Property Partners, Gale Brewer,

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

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