ARC Project’s Future? Let Your Voice Be Heard

With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie set to announce Friday whether he will kill the ARC Project or allow it to proceed, the fate of tri-state area commuters hangs in the balance.

With all types of groups, politicians, economists, and others weighing in, ZONE would like to hear from you.  Please vote in the poll below and let us know how you feel.  (For a recap of the ARC proposal, go here.)

[polldaddy poll=3950748]

ARC Project Pulled!

In a crushing blow to public transit advocates and New Jersey commuters alike, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has ordered the termination of the ARC Tunnel Project.   The ARC project – standing for Access to the Region’s Core  – was a proposed new tunnel from New Jersey into midtown Manhattan, terminating at Penn Station, with an entirely new underground rail station built, connecting the many modes of transportation along 34th Street between 6th Ave and 8th Ave. Continue reading

Zoning, Sustainability, & City Policy

Earlier this summer, we at Herrick Feinstein hosted a seminar – Zoning, Sustainability, & City Policy.  The seminar had a panel of green building and New York City policy experts; focus was on the Green Codes Task Force recommendations, the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, and the current trends in New York City sustainability policy.

I interviewed each of the three panelists and a very lively and informative seminar unfolded.  Below are three clips from the evening.  If you would like to view the seminar in its entirety, it can be found here.

Continue reading

The Scope of LPC’s Power

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (“LPC”) voted down the landmarking of 45-47 Park Place – because they did not believe the building was of sufficient architectural and historic merit to warrant a landmark designation.  This otherwise routine decision not to designate received much press coverage because the proposed use is an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site.  Of course, the LPC does not focus on a building’s intended use – but its aesthetic and architectural design.

Lost in the political rhetoric of the past several days is a question that has begun to come up with more and more frequency in recent years: Does the LPC go beyond the intended scope of its power and use landmark designation as an anti-development tool? Continue reading

421-a Program: What Does the Future Hold?

421aCrystal Ball

Picture it: City and State lawmakers racing against the sunsetting of the 421-a law to modify and extend the program.

While it may seem like only yesterday, this scene actually played out three long years ago; and is likely to reenact itself in a few short months.

At the end of 2007, the market was still trending upwards (the fall of Lehman in October 2008 was months away) and the overall tenor of the debate was not if the program’s benefits should be limited, but by how much.  In the end, the program was extended for three years, the exclusion zone was expanded, negotiable certificates were essentially eliminated, and benefits were capped based on assessed value. Continue reading

A Little Off the Top? – “Illegal” Addition to be Removed

Image Courtesy of Landmark West!

Image Courtesy of Landmark West!

As reported this week in the Wall Street Journal, an Upper West Side townhouse will have to demolish a top-floor addition (see shaded portion in above image) due to a lack of approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

In 2005, the owners (at that time) of the townhouse, 12-14 W. 68th St.,  received a permit from the Department of Buildings (DOB) to construct a 6th-floor penthouse addition.  15 years earlier, however, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District was created.  The Historic District covers this portion of West 68th St.  Being in a Historic District, of course, requires approval from the LPC for any alterations to the façade of the building.  No such approval was obtained from the LPC. Continue reading

Once a “Development”, always a “Development”? City loses lawsuit, subsequently aims to overhaul entire Zoning Resolution!

161 E. 94th St.

Image from Google Streetview

In 2007, an owner of an upper east side townhouse submitted a proposal to the Department of City Planning requesting permission to convert the townhouse basement into a 1-car garage.  Doing so would require creating a 9’2” curb cut in front of the property in question.

The Department of City Planning rejected the application, citing Section 25-633 of the zoning resolution:

In the districts indicated, curb cuts are prohibited for residential developments on zoning lots having a width of less than 40 feet…

City Planning felt that this section disqualified the applicant, since the property: Continue reading

It’s Just a Facade?

Local Law 11 of 1998 required the inspection and maintenance of facades of buildings greater than 6 stories tall.  Owners must have an architect or engineer inspect all facades of the building (including inner facades not seen from the street).

The façade inspections are required every five years and Cycle 7 starts this Sunday!

There is a staggered, 1-2 year window to file.  The timing depends on the last digit of the building’s block number.

The timing is as follows:

Last Digit of Block Number

Filing Period

4, 5, 6, 9

2/21/10 – 2/21/12

0, 7, 8

2/21/11 – 8/21/12

1, 2, 3

2/21/12 – 2/21/13

Just a Suggestion: Task Force Puts Forth 111 Recommendations on How City Regulations Can Promote Sustainability


Earlier this week, the Green Codes Task Force – a group convened in July 2008 by Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Quinn to review the regulations affecting buildings and provide suggestions on amending these regulations to promote sustainability – released their report.

The report covers a wide array of topics, ranging from health and toxicity to energy and water to urban ecology.

The recommendations suggest changes to the general approach to new construction and existing buildings.  Additionally, specific changes to the building code and zoning regulation are suggested.

Some tangible changes that the Task Force recommends are: Continue reading