Why Residents of the University Place/Broadway Corridor and Surrounding Blocks Should Oppose the City’s Rezoning Plans

The City’s rezoning proposals ‘Zoning for Quality and Affordability’ (ZQA) and dcp-presentation-iconMandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) are making their way through the public review process. If approved, each would profoundly impact our neighborhoods and our city, increasing the size and amount of allowable development.  And while both have received overwhelming disapproval from community boards and Borough Presidents, the Mayor insists they will ultimately be approved.  The City Council has final say over these proposals’ fate, but their position remains to be seen.

It’s therefore critical that New Yorkers get involved with the process.  But residents of University Place, Broadway, and the surrounding blocks have a particular stake in ensuring these rezoning plans are not adopted.

Why?  Because we have been fighting to get this area rezoned with height limits to prevent inappropriate, out-of-scale new development.  But if the Mayor’s plan passes, those protections we are seeking would be gutted.

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Map showing proposed rezoning area.  Areas outside rezoning are for the most part landmarked or already have contextual zoning.  ZQA would increase the height limits we are seeking by 25 feet.

Right now, the zoning on these blocks allows 300 foot tall towers, like the one currently planned for the former Bowlmor site at University Place and 12th Street.

GVSHP has proposed a contextual rezoning for the University Place, Broadway, and the surrounding blocks that would limit new construction to no more than 80 or 120 feet in height, remove the incentives for dorm and hotel construction in the current zoning, while adding incentives for including affordable housing.

Our rezoning proposal is supported by the local Community Board, elected officials, and local community groups – pretty much everyone except the Mayor, who must support it for it to move ahead.

But if the Mayor’s ZQA plan goes through, the zoning districts we are seeking for the area would have their height limits increased by up to 25 feet, meaning new developments could reach a maximum height of 105 feet instead of the 80 feet we proposed, or 145 feet instead of the 120 feet we proposed.

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Comparison showing what is planned on Bowlmor site and what would be allowed under proposed rezoning; under ZQA, the development could grow 25 feet taller.

Adding insult to injury, the height limits we are currently seeking, which are determined by existing zoning categories, are still not as strong as we would like, though they are significantly better than what current zoning allows.  But if ZQA passes, even these protections would be significantly weakened.

Want to help?  Attend the City Council public hearings at City Hall on Tuesday February 9 or Wednesday February 10 starting at 9:30 am, and send letters to city officials in opposition here (letters can also be used as sample testimony; testimony must be no more than four minutes, but 20 copies of written testimony of any length can be submitted).  More information on how to testify, track when you will be called to speak etc. can be found here and here.

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Andrew Berman

Andrew Berman has been the Executive Director of GVSHP since 2002.