You may have heard about an innovative and ambitious plan being developed by the Hudson River Park Trust, intended as a way to finance (in part) the ongoing construction and continued maintenance of the group’s namesake, five-mile-long open space, which stretches from the Battery to 59th Street in Manhattan, encompassing a “500-acre footprint” including over a dozen piers extending into the Hudson.
The group is currently in the planning stages for a proposal that would effectively transfer unused development rights tied to a certain number of the existing piers (quoted in recent press coverage as the equivalent of approximately 1.6 million square feet), to an area defined as a special “transfer district” (similar to the underlying framework along the High Line and other delineated areas in the City), covering roughly one City block’s width in from the shoreline, for the full length of the Park.
Richard Bass, an urban planner with Herrick, Feinstein LLP’s Land Use Group, has been working with residents and Manhattan Community Board 4 in Chelsea to assist local officials, including recently-elected City Councilmember Corey Johnson, in an effort to re-locate an inappropriately-sited EMS facility below the High Line on West 23rd Street. The facility, which violates zoning regulations, also negatively impacts area residents and threatens High Line visitors. Among the numerous complaints are that the EMS site was flooded during Hurricane Sandy and could not serve the host community, along with ongoing issues with noise and air quality impacts; these and other issues continue to be problematic to a number of residential buildings in the surrounding area. Richard was recently quoted in the DNAinfo article “Neighbors Renew Attacks on One of City’s Busiest Ambulance Stations”, and he was also interviewed by CBS New York on this matter.
Late last week, Carl Weisbrod was officially appointed to the Chair of the City Planning Commission, a two-in-one title that brings the added responsibilities of the Director of the City Planning Department.
The appointment of Mr. Weisbrod had been reportedly decided earlier in the week by City Hall and thus what surprise there was to the news was tempered by a sense of relief and even comfort. Because of the relatively late appointment — and after a search that had had as many as half-a-dozen presumed contenders as recently as a week ago — this particular position had become the focus of increasing speculation across the real estate and development community. The fact that Mr. Weisbrod was the co-chair of the Mayor’s own transition team — an unusual scenario he himself acknowledged at his inaugural press conference — provided an added layer of intrigue, but one that somehow seemed appropriate in the end.
Last week, David Greenfield (44th District, Brooklyn) was selected to chair the City Council’s Land Use Committee, but a number of key agency appointments in the de Blasio administration remain vacant or unconfirmed. With turnover being widely reported at the top of City Planning, Landmarks, the BSA and HPD (to name just some) we, along with many others with an interest in land use and real estate, eagerly await word on those and other appointments. (more…)
For those who live, work, or happened to be visiting in Midtown Manhattan today, you’re probably well aware of the crane situation at the construction site for the tower on West 57th Street (under control, as of the late afternoon). These types of situations—and this was the same site where an earlier crane memorably dangled 1,000 feet in the air for several days after Hurricane Sandy almost exactly one year ago—rightfully gain nationwide attention for the dramatic scale of the dangers posed, in a line of work that we so often take for granted.
For the most part, much of the public drama over the Department of City Planning’s East Midtown proposal has been played out. At this point, most anyone with a stake in New York City real estate has (often quite forcefully) thrown in their two cents: architectural pundits and practitioners, big-time property owners, citywide civic advocacy groups, a consortium of affected Community Boards, present and presumptive Manhattan Borough Presidents, and nearly every faction of the fourth estate. But ultimately—or likely penultimately, as the City Council will most certainly take its turn to weigh in—it finally comes down to what the City Planning Commission thinks, and its moment arrives this week.
In May, the City Council adopted a zoning text amendment that revised the parking regulations in the “Manhattan Core,” the area south of 96th Street on the east side and south of 110th Street on the west side. Since 1982, this area of Manhattan has been subject to parking regulations that differ from those in effect in the rest of the City, in part due to an effort to reduce pollution after the Clean Air Act and an acknowledgement that the number of cars in the congested areas of central Manhattan should be limited. Parking is not required for any new development in the Manhattan Core and is only permitted in limited amounts.
As previously mentioned, Westchester County (the “County”) entered into a Settlement and Order of Stipulation and Dismissal (the “Settlement”) regarding exclusionary zoning practices and the ability to create affordable housing. Attached is a report, required by the U.S. District Court’s 7/12/2012 Order, compelling the County to conduct an analysis regarding restrictive zoning practices in 31 communities. The County reached the conclusion that there was no evidence of exclusionary zoning in any of the 31 communities. However, the court appointed Monitor engaged the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (old friends John Shapiro and Brian Kintish, with Alix Fellman) to review the County’s conclusions and data. The attached report concluded that 24 of the 31 communities are not exclusionary, and directed the County to provide by August 27, 2013 priority steps the 7 exclusionary communities should take to provide sufficient opportunities for affordable housing.
The report highlighted my community, Hastings on Hudson, for providing meaningful opportunities for development of affordable housing, in terms of zoning and the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan.
Monitor’s Report on Westchester County’s Analysis of Municipal Zoning
Report on Zoning by Municipality in Westchester County, New York (Hastings-on-Hudson Section)
Twelve (12) years after the Notice of Intent, nine (9) years after approval of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, and six (6) years after the start of construction, the MTA has launched the Second Avenue Subway Community Information Center (“CIC”), a “one-stop shop along the Second Avenue Subway construction corridor, where visitors can learn about the subway, its history, and its construction.” The CIC is intended as a central hub to provide construction information to the public, and to bring project concerns directly to the staff’s attention. Last night I, along with five local residents, attended the Center’s premiere presentation.
NEW YORK CITY’S STREET NAME SIGNS:
HOW AND WHY THEY VARY IN COLOR, SHAPE, SIZE AND CONTENT
Currently in New York City, there are approximately 250,000 street name signs. Most have white text on green backgrounds and are otherwise uniformly designed (see Photograph A). But, have you noticed that there are numerous variations in NYC’s street name signs? Some signs, for example, have brown backgrounds; others blue; and yet others black. Some signs are illuminated and some contain images. Other variations in signage concern capitalization and font style. If you have noticed these variations, have you also wondered about the meaning behind them?
This piece discusses the regulations behind the design of NYC’s street name signs, and among other things, why many of the street name signs in use today will be replaced over the next several years.