The City Council voted Wednesday to approve the rezoning of Hudson Square in Lower Manhattan. The rezoning will allow developers — including the area’s dominant player Trinity Real Estate — to move forward with several large-scale hotel and residential projects.
As part of the approval process, Speaker Christine Quinn secured a commitment for a vote on landmark status for the adjacent South Village Historic District, according to a statement from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, a preservation group. But community activists were concerned that the city did not discuss any landmark designations for sites south of Houston Street, which is home to nearly half of the proposed district.
“The landmarking commitment only covers about half the endangered area and won’t take effect until nine months after the rezoning, allowing developers ample time to knock down historic buildings,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village group, said in a statement.
Earlier this month, two key council committees approved a controversial part of the proposal, which would let developers build 2,000 to 3,000 new apartments — many of them affordable — in the neighborhood. —Hiten Samtani
New York’s real estate planning gurus tackle the next 50 years of zoning By Leigh Kamping-Carder
Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s comprehensive “Zoning Resolution,” which dictated what types of development could go where.
The rules have undergone changes since taking effect in 1961, but in many ways, they continue to reflect the concerns of a prior era — when the automobile was king, manufacturing a steady source of employment and the Internet a far-off dream.
“We are occupying a social realm that’s different than [what] we constructed 50 years ago,” developer Jonathan Rose, founder of the eponymous real estate firm, said at a conference last month organized by the Department of City Planning, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute of Baruch College.
As the Zoning Resolution passes the half-century mark, the kind of radical revamp that took place in the 1950s is not in the works. But city planners, academics and real estate professionals are crafting proposals that will shape the way developers build in the coming years: unlocking underused land, updating Midtown’s aging office stock, incorporating sustainability, and redefining “mixed-use” in ways that blur residential and commercial districts.
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A task force commissioned by City Comptroller John Liu is poised to call for a major change in the way that the city determines what amenities—such as affordable housing and parks—to extract from real-estate developers in exchange for approving their plans.
Those decisions are among the most controversial parts of the city’s rough-and-tumble land-use approval process and are often criticized for the inconsistent way in which they are made. A draft report by the task force, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, recommends that new groups made up of community representatives—and monitored by the comptroller—negotiate benefit deals with developers involving major rezoning decisions.
Currently there’s no formalized way in which these deals are made. Rather a collection of interest groups typically participate, including elected officials, community organizations and others, with the ultimate decision on the zoning being made by the City Council.
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