Zoning Battle Brewing on Canal Street

Landlords want to upzone Canal Street so they can build taller buildings. Preservationists want to limit growth. Same old story.

Landlords want to upzone Canal Street so they can build taller buildings. Preservationists want to limit growth. Same old story. New setting: Chinatown.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that, “A group of real-estate developers have commissioned a study to rethink Canal Street as they ratchet up a controversial effort to allow for taller buildings along Chinatown’s main thoroughfare.”

The group’s rationale goes like this:

The developers say that Canal Street’s role as a major transit hub and commercial center means they should be allowed to build high-rise offices and apartments in place of the low-slung buildings that occupy much of the street. But they’ll have to overcome concerns that their push would damage Chinatown’s economy and heritage.

But those low-slung buildings, and the many small businesses that occupy them, have their defenders, including the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side. They argue the following:

Chinatown is a thriving economy-it’s small-business driven…When those small businesses are gone and when those residents are gone, our economy is basically going to be dead.

More here.

drubinstein@observer.com

Zoning Battle Brewing on Canal Street