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.
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.
For those of you planning to attend this week’s CPC public hearing session, remember that the host venue is the National Museum of the American Indian, in the former U.S. Custom House building, at One Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan. When the CPC expects an extraordinary turnout for a public hearing, it makes special arrangements to move the proceedings—normally at its headquarters at 22 Reade Street—to an offsite location, and this week’s agenda should validate the move.
In the world of land use and real estate development here in New York City – even to those of us who work in (or are students of) it – it can sometimes feel like a foreign language is being spoken, with all the jargon, acronyms and bureaucratic titles involved.
Today’s entry provides a primer on some of the key players in local government who share some responsibility for writing, interpreting and applying the myriad rules and regulations one must navigate long before – and sometimes long after – the proverbial “first shovel” goes into the ground. In a future post we’ll explain some of the frequently heard terms that describe the rules and issues that we as planners deal with on a daily basis.
After the jump, in alphabetical order (by acronym, as that’s how they we typically refer to them), are just some of the city agencies with a role in the land use process. If you’re considering any kind of development within the five boroughs, you’ll be getting to know one or more of these entities along the way. (And for further information on the responsibilities of each, click on the name to visit the official Web site.)
The piece (which is misplaced in the Arts Section) argues that the plan, developed by the Department of City Planning, calls for too much density, without sufficient focus on infrastructure and mass transit – and it seems to suggest that people won’t be working in high-rises so much (but is silent about living).
Density is good for the environment, and it is good for New York. It is a key reason why the City’s “carbon footprint” is so low. Density is also good for the workplace – as it brings people and corporations together. It is good for neighborhoods and for the life of the City. The rezoning’s focus on Grand Central (contrary to the main theme of the Times’ commentary) demonstrates an awareness of the basic need to support the highest densities at and around established transit nodes. The plan is not an irresponsible call for enormous buildings – but an incentive program to encourage the replacement and rebuilding of undersized and obsolete Class “B” buildings.
The plan doesn’t pretend that zoning is a panacea – it’s but one tool in an overall effort to keep New York City globally competitive while also balancing a regional focus among Hudson Yards, Lower Manhattan and Midtown.
The Times piece would be better placed in the Metropolitan section – and would better serve the readers if it were more comprehensive.
(Image borrowed from Department of City Planning presentation of East Midtown Rezoning).
Notwithstanding the plethora of rezonings accomplished by the City Planning Commission (with the approval of the City Council) over the past decade—many of which erased industrial zoning—New York City continues to maintain multiple manufacturing districts throughout the five boroughs. Yet, except for certain niche industries and highly specialized manufacturing businesses, the decline of traditional industrial uses continues. Of course, key concentrations of industrial jobs do exist, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and portions of Industry City (also in Brooklyn), for example. But it seems quite clear that these are not in the “traditional smokestack” industries, where assembly lines of people engage in round-the-clock mass production. On the contrary, a range of manufacturing sectors has actually lost hundreds of jobs over the last few decades, of which garment businesses are among the most recognizable.