In the Rezone
Tales of Retail
It turns out a one-liner in Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City may indeed be one of the biggest development proposals of the waning days of his administration. Last Thursday, the mayor declared, “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.”
At the time, this could have meant any number of things, from tax incentives to a rezoning. The latter would be the most ambitious, but also the most complex, given it would require the demolition of some of the most built-up real estate in the world. According to a spokesperson for the Department of City Planning, the city is studying exactly what the best approach would be for the area, and expects to have the results by the spring, but according to The Journal, a major rezoning, stretching as far north as Central Park, may well be in the works.
Tales of Retail
Maybe the Fulton Mall just needs some zoning changes to save its mom and pop shops. That’s what they’re doing on the Upper West Side, tired of all the giant Duane Reades and Chases. New zoning requirements would limit the size of stores on Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, protecting the character of the neighborhood and possibly discouraging national retailers, who tend to prefer bigger spaces.
Not surprisingly, landlords are not happy about the proposal, according to The Journal.
Green Is the New...
It is getting hard to catalog all the new changes on the Fulton Mall in recent years. There is the new benches and sidewalks, rebuilt after decades of neglect. The rezoning and the thousands of new apartments borne in on the tides of its land rush. A new mall, CityPoint, maybe with a Target inside, as well as the national retailers finally flooding into the old department stores alongside Macy’s: Aeropostale, Express, H&M, TJ Maxx. And who could forget the crown jewel, Shake Shack.
While people worry about the future of the mall and who might shop there—indeed, it is the subject of a feature in tomorrow’s paper—it still has much of the polyglot look it has had for decades, even more so given the new mix of national shops among the mom and pops with their riotous signs.
Just as it worked for the rezoning in 2005 and the streetscaping a year later, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is in the early stages of creating new standards for the storefronts on Fulton Mall, according to people involved with the project. While still very much preliminary, some form of new regulations is being developed by the local business improvement district in partnership with the Department of City Planning to spruce up the walls of the Fulton Mull.
Politicians are good at coming up with plans, proposals and white papers. The Bloomberg administration has been surprisingly good at enacting them.
PlaNYC begat 127 ideas for making New York more sustainable and cutting its carbon footprint by 30 percent. This begat the Green Codes building proposals, released almost two year ago, with 138 specific proposals for improving the city’s environmental profile.
The challenge has been enacting those ideas, which the City Council has been doing in bill after bill for the past year. Now, the Department of City Planning is getting in on the act, and yesterday it released a handful of new zoning amendments that will make certain sustainable building practices easier to do without seeking special approvals.
The city will gain what amounts to a permanent, open park in the heart of one of the most densely built-up areas in the world. It is principally because of this public benefit that the commission has viewed this application with favor.
—City Planning application No. 20222, adopted March 20, 1968
Except for the highly intrusive police fencing lining a handful of streets and the occasional thrum of a drum circle, life goes on in Lower Manhattan. Tourists clog the streets in front of Century 21, craning to get a look at World Trade Center construction and the new 9/11 memorial beyond. Analysts and traders puff on cigarettes on the granite plazas outside their towering offices. Strollers abound.
The protests known as #occupywallstreet might better be called #occupyzucottipark. The plaza two blocks from the street of the protestors’ ire is well-known by now, a square to rival Rockefeller Center or the Apple Cube of Fifth Avenue in its current popularity.
Best Laid Plans
When Amanda Burden and the City Planning Commission cut Jean Nouvel’s Torre Verre down to size, the architectural cogniscenti were dismayed. Hines, the project’s developer, had sworn the project would be financially infeasible 200 feet shorter. At only 1,050 feet, it would no longer rival the Empire State Building on the skyline but instead share a midtown profile with the likes of the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center and the MetLife Building. Still, even in a downturn brought on by bombastic overbuilding, real estate has a way of persevering in New York. As The Observer revealed two weeks ago, Hines is currently pursuing a new set of plans for the oft-called MoMA Tower. And here they are.
Hines declined to release new plans, and initially suggested there were none. Through a public information request, The Observer has obtained copies of architectural drawings from the City Planning Commission. While they may not be as sexy as the kind of full-color renderings architects usually prepare to wow the media , they shed plenty of light on the new shape of the project.
The Biggest Boro
For years, planners and politicos have talked about transforming Brooklyn’s dingy Fourth Avenue into the borough’s own version of Park Avenue. That transformation is still in the works, but thanks to a handful of rezonings along the thoroughfare, the strip has gotten its fair share of mid-sized apartment buildings. Leaning more Robert Scarano than Rosario Candela, it is not exactly the sexiest strip. But one issue that has caused some real complaints within the community is the utter lack of street life.
Everybody Go Downtown
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
In the Rezone
Most streets in the Financial District are a warren of glorified cow paths and back alleys that date back to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdaam. One of the rare exceptions is Water Street, which once was at the historic water line but was built out with landfill centuries ago. Now the street spans eight Read More
When Columbia announced its plans to create a new 17-acre campus in the Manhattanville neighborhood of West Harlem, those living just next door were understandably worried. The university has had a fractious relationship with Morningside Heights, from the controversial 1960s gymnasium that sparked riots to its imposing campus that is seen as off-limits to Read More