Terry Tynes via flickr (CC)
As a small oasis in the center of Manhattan, Greenacre Park is home to honey locust trees, azaleas, pansies and a 25-foot-high waterfall, all taking up just 6,360 square feet of space. However, the city’s plan to rezone Midtown East to allow for more commercial buildings worries some advocates who say it may deplete Greenacre Park from any sunlight, as the Times reported. But the Municipal Art Society, New Yorkers for Parks, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, are backing a campaign called “Fight For Light” to protect the park’s right to sunlight.
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At a Manhattan community board meeting Wednesday evening, city officials told garment industry representatives of plans to remove Midtown‘s manufacturing preservation requirement, Crain’s reports. The change to a 1987 zoning rule means that landlords will have the option to rent the formerly set-aside space to commercial office tenants. City officials cited the failure of the preservation effort to meet its goal, highlighted by a reported 83 percent decline the number of garment workers–from 30,000 to 5,100– since it was first implemented. As 6sqft recently reported, the rezoning is seen as “a clear push to drive these businesses toward lower cost space in Sunset Park.”
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In October, city officials unveiled plans to rezone a large swath of East Harlem. The major thrust of the rezoning initiative is to bring more high-rise buildings to a corridor running several blocks along Park, Second, and Third avenues. By building up, city officials hope the neighborhood will increase its housing stock, including its affordable housing stock. In the long term, the proposed rezoning will also radically reshape the East Harlem’s appearance and street life, turning it from a mostly low-rise to high-rise neighborhood. What is about to happen to East Harlem, however, is a familiar story. Since 1916, when New York passed its first zoning resolution, the city has been profoundly shaped by zoning regulations.
MORE ON THE HISTORY OF ZONING AT CITYREALTY…
This time last year, Mayor de Blasio put forth his controversial rezoning proposal, part of his plan to preserve and/or create 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024. It’ll now come to fruition, as DNAinfo reports that the City Council has approved the rezoning. “It includes Zoning for Quality and Affordability, a push to raise building heights and lift parking requirements in order to facilitate the construction of more affordable and senior housing, and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, which will rezone certain neighborhoods and require affordable units in some new construction,” they explain. But not everyone is happy about the largest zoning overhaul since 1961. In fact, the City Council hearing was full of protestors, many of whom feel this will take away long-fought-for height limits that keep neighborhoods in scale. Which side are you on?
Map of proposed rezoning via Department of City Planning
The New York City Planning Commission voted 12-1 in approval of Mayor de Blasio’s controversial rezoning plan for East New York, Gothamist reports. It’s the first of 15 low-income neighborhoods scheduled for rezoning as part of the Mayor’s affordable housing plan, which promises to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the rezoning this spring.
As part of what is known as Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), rezoning plans for East New York’s Cypress Hills neighborhood and adjacent Ocean Hill in Bed-Stuy would have 7,000 new apartments built by 2030, 3,447 of which will be designated affordable, in addition to one million square feet of commercial space. Of those affordable units, 80 percent would be reserved for families (defined as a household of three, with any number of earners) making no more than 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $46,000; 27 percent would go to families making 40 percent of the AMI or $31,000.
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Carter Uncut brings New York City’s breaking development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. This week Carter brings us the second installment of nine-part series, “Skyline Wars,” which examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter zooms in on Midtown East and the design of One Vanderbilt, the controversial tower that is being pinned as the catalyst for change in an area that has fallen behind in recent decades.
Despite some objections from community boards and local politicians, New York City is moving ahead with the rezoning of East Midtown between Fifth and Third avenues, and 39th and 59th Streets; and earlier this year, the de Blasio administration enacted an important part of the plan, a rezoning of the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor just to the west of Grand Central Terminal. The Vanderbilt Avenue rezoning included approval of a 1,501-foot-high tower at 1 Vanderbilt Avenue on the block bounded by Madison Avenue, 42nd and 43rd Streets. The tapered, glass-clad tower, topped by a spire, is being designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox for SL Green. Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio have championed the 1 Vanderbilt proposal despite serious concerns voiced by numerous civic organizations over the rezoning scheme that some see as “spot zoning” and the fact that the city has still not finalized nor published its complete rezoning package.
Using air-rights transfers from the Grand Central Terminal area and zoning bonuses for providing $210 million for infrastructure improvements in the area, the tower will significantly alter the midtown skyline, rising several hundred feet above the nearby Chrysler Building and the huge and bulky but lower MetLife Tower straddling Park Avenue just north of Grand Central Terminal. Its 63 stories are several less than the Chrysler Building and just a few more than the MetLife Tower, which might be interpreted by some observers as indicated that it was in “context” with such prominent neighbors, but they are wrong.
Residential construction along the High Line continues at full steam as a rash of activity along the park’s northern extents rises higher and larger than earlier developments farther south. To provide a gradual transition from mid-rise West Chelsea to the enormous skyscrapers planned for the Far West Side, the Bloomberg administration in 2005 allowed more generous zoning between West 28th and 30th streets along Tenth and Eleventh avenues. Earlier this week Curbed, via ILNY’s Flickr photostream, gave us our first look at West Chelsea’s future tallest structure, a 425-foot rental tower at 319 Tenth Avenue that is part of a trio of buildings being developed by Long Island-based Lalezarian Properties.
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The revitalization of East New York is at the center of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, but like his ambitious Sunnyside Yards project, his ideas for the fallen areas of Brooklyn are apparently also filled with holes. According to a piece published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, de Blasio’s plan to re-zone 15 neighborhoods to allow for taller and denser housing won’t do much good for affordable housing. The main reason? The rents are too low. In fact, housing experts believe that his plan is more likely to hurt the character of Brooklyn’s most tony areas, including Park Slope, Fort Greene, and Crown Heights, amongst many others.
More on their findings here
On the surface it sounds like a great idea: Adjust zoning regulations to better accommodate the Mayor’s goal of preserving and creating 200,000 units of affordable housing. But some are angered that the proposal would lift current zoning protections and height limits by as much as 20 to 30 percent.
According to the Department of City Planning, the newly released plan, called Housing New York: Zoning for Quality and Affordability, addresses the city’s outdated zoning regulations that don’t reflect today’s housing needs or construction practices. However, an email from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation asserts: “The proposal would change the rules for ‘contextual’ zoning districts throughout the city–zoning districts which communities frequently fought hard to secure, to limit the height of new development and keep it in character with the surrounding neighborhood.”
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Photo © Cameron Baylock
Among neighborhoods primed to be the next untapped frontier, Ridgewood isn’t a newcomer. This low-key community on the western border of Queens has seen a steady migration of L-train riders, including the young and restless fleeing Williamsburg and professionals looking for a safe, accessible, quiet ‘hood to call home. In New York City, where every square foot vies for “next big thing” status, Ridgewood is a smart alternative to its headline-stealing North Brooklyn neighbors, Bushwick and Williamsburg, for anyone looking to invest in an up-and-coming residential area.
More on the rise of Ridgewood this way