Best Laid Plans
Add a few more names to the growing list of people concerned about the speed with which the city is executing the Midtown East Rezoning—ones that carry some serious political clout. In addition to the community boards, a few civic groups and local Councilman Dan Garodnick (who’s vote will be crucial to get the rezoning through the City Council), four new Midtown reps have just sent a letter to the mayor saying the rezoning needs more time to be perfected.
“Because this rezoning is so important, it is critical that it is done correctly the first time and is responsive to the concerns of the area’s current stakeholders even as it lays the groundwork for the area’s future,” Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, Assemblyman Dan Qart and state senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman write. They ask the Department of City Planning to withdraw the plan currently in the works, which is expected to be certified in the coming weeks, “in order to permit sufficient time for community input.”
In the Rezone
The new towers in Hudson Square are going to look more, well, square.
That is after Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wrangled a deal with Trinity Church to reduce the size of new towers as part of a rezoning the rectors are undertaking in the formerly industrial neighborhood just north of the Holland Tunnel. This was among the concessions extracted by Mr. Stringer before giving the project his conditional approval, which he signed yesterday as part of the rezoning’s public review process.
The buildings will be a bit wider, though, so as not to lose their density, but they can only rise to 290 feet, rather than 320 feet. Stocky towers instead of slender spires, basically. But that is in many ways fitting with the areas already stolid building stock of former printing plants, which typified the neighborhood for a century before it became a popular haven for Soho expats and minor celebrities (hello James Gandolfini and Lou Reed!).
Best Laid Plans
Friday was Adolfo Carrion’s last day working for the Obama administration. He had been ensconced for the past two years in a corner office on the 35th floor of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building downtown, serving as director of HUD Region 2, which is where The Observer met him a few weeks ago to discuss the president‘s flagging urban agenda.
Bronx paraphernalia filled the glass-line space. Near the doorway was a green highway sign, WELCOME TO THE BRONX. On a bookshelf behind his desk, beside family photos, books (Sonia Sotomayor’s biography, Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat) and hardhats of special significance, rested a miniature subway sign for the 161st Street-Yankees Stadium stop. Along the wall stood a T.V. tuned to CNBC, framed newspaper clippings, and not one but two Yankees groundbreaking shovels, one of which had a bat for a handle. Pinstriped paraphernalia was everywhere, declaring the Manhattan-born, Bronx-bred politician’s on-field allegiance.
Mr. Carrion left the Bronx to go work for the administration, first on the campaign trail, then as the inaugural director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. He left that position to come work at HUD, a move many saw as a demotion, though he insists it was always part of his plan.
SOC It to Me
The main focus of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City speech today may have been on taking another crack at fixing the city’s schools and streamlining its government, but this is still Mike Bloomberg, remaker of skylines and rebuilder of waterfronts, so there was bound to be a lot of development goodies studding the speech.
Aside from the Kingsbridge Armory announcement, which was previewed yesterday, the proposal that most jumped out was one for the heart of Midtown. “In the area around Grand Central, we’ll work with the City Council on a package of regulatory changes and incentives that will attract new investment, new companies and new jobs,” the mayor said.
Best Laid Plans
When the city rezoned Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn in 2005, it tried to nudge retail development onto Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, via the natural selection. Developers built huge residential towers, but the street wall remained blank, empty of retail, a blight for pedestrians. The Department of City Planning is revising its plans for the strip, hoping to ensure any future development will be better, but Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, as is his wont, wants more.
In the Rezone
Yesterday, the City Council voted to suburbanize another piece of Queens. This time it was the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside getting rezoned. The plan helps preserve the neighborhoods’ character by limiting new development to a few main thoroughfares, but as arguably two of the best neighborhoods in the city, limits newcomers. “The pace of development in Sunnyside and Woodside has increased in recent years for many reasons, including its attractive and well-kept streetscapes, bustling commercial corridors, and convenient mass transit to and from Manhattan,” local Councilman Jimmy Van Bremmer said in a release, which you can read in full after the jump. ”By taking this action today, we will prevent development that is out of character while protecting the low density nature of much of the area.”
Better get in while the getting is good.
Farewell to All That
In a move that could help revive debate about the future of midtown west’s grungy office stock, Edison Properties wants to build a 407-unit residential tower in the area directly south of Penn Station, currently a no man’s land of cheap office lofts and questionable pizza joints.
The New Jersey-based developer owns a parking lot Read More
The Biggest Boro
Last year, New York magazine, via the magic of stats wizard Nate Silver, declared Sunnyside, Queens, the third best neighboirhood in the city. The first two were obvious–Park Slope and the Lower East Side–but the choice of the (for how much longer?) working-class neighborhood just off the 7 train was a bit of Read More
Last week, the City Planning Commission approved the rezoning of Third Avenue in the East Village, a measure designed to prevent out-of-scale towers–looking at you, NYU dorms–from overtaking the four-block stretch and overwhelming the area’s historic mid-rise scale. It’s the second time in as many years that part of the Lower Read More
In Da Slope
The Journal had an interesting story today about the slower-than expected development of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, which was rezoned in 2003 with great hopes for creating “Brooklyn’s Park Avenue.”
While much of the article is a by-the-numbers status report on what’s built and what’s stalled, there is an undercurrent emphasizing the importance Read More