It Takes a Village
Tomorrow, NYU will take its somewhat shrunken plan for its Greenwich Village expansion back to the City Council. Last week, local rep Margaret Chin convinced the school to shave 17 percent off its scheme, modifications that were approved today at the City Planning Commission. The university has cooked up a new set of renderings showing the changes to the towers on the site in anticipation of full council approval come Wednesday. Can you tell the difference?
Exactly two years ago tomorrow, the City Council approved a sweeping $1.4 billion redevelopment plan for the Domino Sugar refinery on the Williamsburg waterfront. One of the biggest concerns at the time (of which there were many) was that the grand promise made by developer CPC Resources to make 30 percent of the project’s 2,200 units would never be realized.
Nowhere in the zoning resolution was this mandated, even though it was the marquee feature of the 11-acre development, along with promises of waterfront access, top-notch open space and a school. The developer could build no affordable housing, though this would mean a smaller project, or use the city’s inclusionary housing program to gain a bonus for bigger buildings in exchange for a promise to make 20 percent of any units affordable. Anything beyond that was a promise, one even CPC Resources did not have to keep. The firm had signed a memorandum of understanding saying it would follow through on this promise, but in no why was it legally binding.
That is why when it was announced last week that Jed Walentas and his Two Trees development company is in contract the Domino site for about $180 million (three-times what CPC had paid for it in 2004, but also less an arduous and contentious public approval process), there were widespread concerns that Mr. Walentas would not live up to the promises of his predecessors. In a recent interview, the developer admitted as much.
“Basically, that analysis is correct,” Mr. Walentas told The Observer.
Best Laid Plans
One of the more onerous aspect’s of developing in New York City is the public review process, known as ULURP, a seven-month gauntlet of meetings and votes and editorializing about one’s baby. But just as troublesome can be the act of getting to ULURP, a pre-certification process at the Department of City Planning that can take months, and sometimes even years, as city officials and planners get a project into the shape they want it and running environmental and economic analysis on the project.
The city just popped an aspirin on this development headache, or rather an Aleve, for a new program known as BluePRint, the Business Process Reform. It is meant to streamline the pre-certification process, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced at an ABNY breakfast this morning.
Bill Rudin must be wondering if it was worth it in the end.
Given the price of prime Manhattan real estate, the answer is almost definitely yes, but that does not change the fact that the redevelopment of the St. Vincent’s hospital into condos in the heart of Greenwich Village has been a long and expensive enterprise. Lawsuits, landmarks reviews, a recession, demands for a new school: the Rudins have overcome them all. Now, it appears, the city wants more.
It Takes a Village
Happy hour had just ended at the Stonewall Inn on Monday night (2-for-1 well, beer and wine). Rob (dirty martini) and Steve (Budweiser) were sitting at a table discussing the merits of Tom Brady and Eli Manning.
“Brady is better in the pocket, he’s better by the numbers, but Eli just always pulls it out for you,” Scott said. “No pun intended,” he quickly added.
“I think Brady’s better. He’s just past his prime,” allowed Rob.
So they were in agreement, a rarity, they said.
Among the things they disagreed on—Thai food (Rob prefers pad thai, Scott pad see ew), books (Rob thrillers, Scott histories)—was a recent proposal for an AIDS memorial on a triangle of land across from the shuttered St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Upper Upper East Side residents have been locked in a development death match with The Related Companies for a few months now, ever since the company decided to exercise its right to build a residential tower on the site of a playground it has maintained for the past 25 years. Actually, 28 years.
Recently, Related decided to close Ruppert Playground, but the community is fighting back because there are no immediate plans to redevelop the site. Rather than let Related take its ball and go home, though, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has stepped up to the plate and potentially throwing up some hurdles that could bring greater oversight, and possibly concessions, to the site.
Outside a freezing cold Chambers Street municipal building Friday afternoon, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer stressed his commitment to block any sale by the Bloomberg administration of three Lower Manhattan buildings owned by the city.
The mayor made reference to the sale in his State of the City last week, involving 22 Reade Street, 49-51 Chambers Street and 346 Broadway, part of the effort to streamline government, in this case through the consolidation and co-location of government office. The borough president argues, however, that the buildings might be put to better use than being sold off for private development.
“By any measure this Lower Manhattan community is suffering from overcrowded classrooms, school shortages and a lack of affordable housing to meet the needs of its constituents,” said Mr. Stringer, who is expected to run for mayor. He seems to have found a special loophole because the city is selling the property through the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which the borough president argues offers him oversight of the sales.
“If you try to get rid of these buildings through the E.D.C. process,” Mr. Stringer continued, “you must go before the Borough Board and that’s where there will be a final say and that’s why I’m here today to let the Mayor and those at City Government know that we’re all going to have to work together on this.”
Purple People Eaters
Nearly a year ago, N.Y.U. unveiled its expansion plan for the next 25 years, which would add 6 million square to the university–already the third-largest landowner in the city, behind the Catholic Church and Columbia. The plan was met with immediate outcry from the Greenwich Village community–which had worked for years to help Read More
Looks like the Bloomberg administration, currently updating the city charter, may leave its land-use approval process untouched.
Amanda Burden, chairwoman of the City Planning Commission and the administration’s empress of all things zoning, said last night that she does not want to see the seven-month review process changed.
Speaking on a panel on the land Read More
The Bloomberg administration has done an about-face on its plan to send the redevelopment of the former Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital though the city's standard (and intensive) public review process, known among real estate wonks as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) — a move that has at least one project opponent fuming. Read More