Volume 80, Number 22 | October 28 — November 3, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

See ya later C6-1; New rezonings O.K.’d for East and West

By Albert Amateau

The City Council on Wednesday approved two new development and land-use regulations, one for the Far West Village and the other for the Third and Fourth Aves. corridor of the East Village, intended to protect the character of the two neighborhoods.

The Far West Village rezoning, which covers parts of six blocks bounded by Washington, Greenwich, W. 10th and W. 12th Sts., imposes height limits of 80 feet on new construction, and eliminates a current bonus for commercial uses, such as hotels, provided in the district’s previous zoning.

The Third and Fourth Aves. corridor rezoning, which covers parts of eight blocks bounded by E. 13th St. on the north, E. Ninth St. on the south, Fourth Ave. on the west and Third Ave. on the east, establishes contextual zoning with maximum allowable building heights on new construction. However, the rezoning allows higher residential density if a developer elects to accept an “inclusionary zoning” bonus in exchange for providing permanently affordable housing in the project.

The Council’s action on Tuesday came as a relief to West Village preservation advocates who feared the development of properties at 145 Perry St., at the corner of Washington St., and at 685 Washington St., between Charles and Perry Sts.

“Miraculously, the two rezonings will be taking effect without any new development slipping in under the wire since they were first officially proposed,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

The property at 145 Perry St. was proposed more than a year ago for a hotel and townhouses under the location’s previous C6-1 zoning. Although the site is within the Greenwich Village Historic District, the existing buildings’ demolition was approved because the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission found that the current buildings and lots on the site did not make a significant contribution to the historic district.

The property at 685 Washington St., also declared not a significant contribution to the historic district, was also proposed for new development under the old zoning more than a year ago.

“G.V.S.H.P. reached out to the city and local elected officials a year and a half ago to ask for the area to be rezoned,” Berman said. “It took a year before the city even began to act.”

The new C6-1A zoning will impose height limits on new development of between 40 feet and 65 feet at the street wall, with a total height limit of 80 feet after setbacks. In addition, a bonus for commercial and community facilities development is eliminated under the new zoning, and the overall bulk, aside from height, is nearly 40 percent less than it would have been under the old zoning, Berman said.

The Third and Fourth Aves. corridor proposal, developed by Community Board 3 with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the support of elected officials, replaces the old C6-1 zoning with a new C6-2A.

Almost all the existing buildings conform to the new zoning’s height and bulk limits, except for the 26-story building constructed under the old zoning on E. 12th St. between Third and Fourth Aves. and purchased by New York University earlier this year for $134 million as a student dormitory.

Although the maximum F.A.R. (floor area ratio) for new residential development is higher in the new zoning to encourage developers to include permanently affordable housing, the new zoning establishes street wall heights and a maximum building height of 120 feet, compared to the old zoning, which had no street wall requirements or maximum heights.

Speaking of the Third and Fourth Aves. corridor zoning, Berman said, “The rezoning will ensure that nothing like the 26-story N.Y.U. mega-dorm on E. 12th St. will ever be built in this area again.”

Berman recalled that the corridor rezoning, first proposed in 2006 with C.B. 3, was not included in the 2008 East Village rezoning, despite being supported by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

“But with the help of Councilmember Rosie Mendez, the city relented in 2009 and agreed to support the zoning change for the corridor,” Berman said.

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