Volume 79, Number 31 | January 6 - 12, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo courtesy William Alatriste/NYC Council

From left, Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Mayor Mike Bloomberg; Assemblymember Richard Gottfried; Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, and Community Board 4 Chairperson John Weis gathered above the Western Rail Yard after the City Council voted to rezone the massive development site.

Developer on track with low-cost units at rail yards site

By Patrick Hedlund 

The city has sealed the deal on a development plan for the Hudson Yards that includes far more affordable housing than initially expected. In a near-unanimous vote, the City Council last month O.K.’d the revamped scheme to rezone the sprawling West Side rail yard.

The goal of creating a mixed-use development plan for the 26-acre Western Rail Yard that would include enough permanently affordable housing to appease the community was achieved through 11th-hour negotiations between elected officials and developer The Related Companies leading up to the Dec. 21 vote.

Feeling pressure from community groups and local representatives like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Related agreed to a series of concessions in the plan that will bring the amount of affordable residential units associated with the mega-project to 20 percent of the total.

The developer’s original proposal for the Western Rail Yard, which stretches between 30th and 33rd Sts. and 11th and 12th Aves., did not include a single unit of permanently affordable housing on site. However, working off a more community-conscious blueprint drawn up through years of work by Community Board 4, Related consented to add 431 units of on-site permanently affordable housing to be spread over both the Western and Eastern rail yards.

A total of 312 affordable units — about half of which will be two or more bedrooms permanently affordable for middle-income tenants — will be built off site at two locations in Hell’s Kitchen. Another 600-plus affordable units associated with project will become available at off-site locations, including 75 units of new construction, 150 units of single-room-occupancy housing acquired by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and 400 more units of existing affordable housing that will be unlocked through the project.

In another score for the community, the developer decided to double the amount of cultural space related to the project — from 8,000 square feet to 16,000 square feet — increasing the likelihood that smaller, neighborhood-based organizations can benefit from the space. The Department of Environmental Protection also agreed to create new green space on a parcel of land it owns off site.

“This rezoning reflects years of conversations, outreach and input from community members,” Quinn said in a statement, calling the amended plan “a victory for our community.”

“Soon, thousands of New Yorkers will have the opportunity for new affordable housing and cultural space right in their neighborhoods,” Quinn said. “A rezoning of this magnitude that unlocks an unprecedented amount of developmental potential would only be tenable with a guaranteed affordable housing program.”

Related now has until Jan. 31, 2010, to make its first payment for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority-owned rail yards. The two parties agreed to postpone the deal a year ago due to the ailing economy.

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