By our count, the MTA owns at least 656 sites encompassing more than 41 million square feet of land across all five boroughs. 221 of those parcels are zoned for residential use. Without this bill, the MTA would have no requirement to adhere to the New York City zoning resolution. Quite literally, the sky is the limit for development of these sites.
This legislation will block the MTA from embarking upon virtually unrestricted development in your neighborhood. The Governor has until Monday, November 28 at midnight to sign this bill into law.
Here’s What You Can Do:
Call Governor Cuomo: Urge him to sign Senate Bill 8037 and Assembly Bill 10421. Call him at 1-518-474-8390.
Spread the Word: Use social media, email, and good old conversation to tell your neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues that this is happening. It’s not too late to have our voices heard.
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
Bill: S8037 (Martins) / A10421 (Brennan)
Subject: Repeals the definition of “transportation purpose” for the purposes of the metropolitan transportation authority.
Date: November 21, 2016
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has been actively advocating for sound urban planning practices on behalf of New Yorkers since 1893. In this capacity, we strongly urge Governor Cuomo to sign Senate Bill 8037 and Assembly Bill 10421, repealing the current language that would allow the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to develop land under its control for any purpose without adherence to local zoning regulations.
In June 2016, the New York State Legislature passed the budget with a provision that expands the definition of “transportation purposes” with regard to MTA’s holdings. Previously, the MTA was constrained by zoning regulations for the development of properties for any purpose other than a true transportation use. This new broad language is damaging given the amount of the land owned by MTA in New York City, not to mention statewide, and we insist that the bill repealing this language be signed.
Conservative estimates, based on information available from MapPluto™1, show that the MTA owns 656 properties encompassing more than 41 million square feet of land area across New York City. This includes 221 sites that are zoned for residential use. The average maximum buildable FAR for these properties is 3.15. Without this bill there is literally no limit to what can be built on these sites. (See attached illustrations showing hypothetical buildouts of MTA sites.)
Zoning is the fundamental tool employed by municipalities to shape land use and development in the most equitable way. Diminishing the power of zoning by exempting the MTA from these regulations sets a dangerous precedent. MTA and other authorities with land holdings should be subject to the same zoning regulations as all other property owners in the city and state.
MAS urges Governor Cuomo to sign this important legislation.
(1) MapPluto™ is New York City’s primary dataset for land use and geographic information and mapping. Because MapPluto™ lists properties owned by MTA under different descriptions and agency titles, the actual number of properties affected is likely to be significantly more.
Download full memorandum »»
Download illustrations »»
MTA Property Case Study A
OWNER NAME: New York City Transit
Address: 1190 2 Avenue, MH
Current Zoning: R8B & C2-8 (C2-5 overlay)
Maximum Allowable FAR: 10
Maximum Build-Out Area: 121,200 SF
Current Built FAR: 0.15
Hypothetical Build-out Overriding Local Zoning
Currently Built FAR 0.15
Maximum Allowable FAR Under Current Zoning 10
MTA Property Case Study B
Owner Name: New York City Transit
Address: 40 Quay Street, BK
Current Zoning: C2-4/R6
Maximum Allowable FAR: 4.8
Maximum Build-Out Area: 398,485 SF
Built FAR: 0.9
Hypothetical Build-out Overriding Local Zoning
Currently Build FAR 0.9
Maximum Allowable FAR Under Current Zoning 4.8
Please Note: Current property information from Department of City Planning MapPluto 16v1 2016]]>
These upgrades will certainly improve the experience at the transit hub, but by themselves, they won’t go far enough. In order to provide capacity for future growth and unlock the economic development potential of our region, much more needs to be done by all the partners with a stake in our future. We call on all interest groups and decision makers — both public and private — to advance ideas that address long-term concerns while these new measures are being implemented.
Specifically, MAS and RPA ask our federal, state and local elected leaders; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Amtrak; the U.S. Department of Transportation; NJ Transit; MTA, LIRR, NYCTA, and Metro-North; and business leaders and property owners to commit to the following:
Established in 1893, The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) advocates for excellence in urban design, planning, historic preservation, and community engagement. From saving Grand Central Terminal to fostering the establishment of innovative land-use laws, MAS is at the forefront of New York’s most important campaigns to improve and re-imagine our city’s built environment by promoting economic vitality, cultural vibrancy, ecological sustainability, and social diversity.
Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resiliency and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced three landmark plans for the region and is working on a fourth plan due out in 2017. For more information, please visit www.rpa.org.]]>
The Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin announced the first-ever global recipients of the 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal – Dr. Joan Clos and PK Das. The Medal is awarded to individuals whose work creates new ways of seeing and understanding cities, challenges traditional assumptions about urban life, creatively uses the built environment to make cities places of hope and expectation, and influences global understanding and application of Jane Jacobs’ principles. The 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal was open to international nominees for the first time, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jacobs’ birth and the impact of her ideas on cities around the world.
Dr. Clos is the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), which promotes sustainable urban development around the world. Mr. Das is a Mumbai-based architect and activist, who has worked to revitalize open spaces, rehabilitate slums, and bring the voice of Mumbai residents into a participatory planning process.
The recipients will be honored at a ceremony on October 17 in Quito, Ecuador, during the United Nations Habitat III Conference. Along with the medal, the recipients will receive a cash award.
The Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal was created in 2007 to honor the author and activist who died in April 2006 at the age of 89. The Rockefeller Foundation’s relationship with Jane Jacobs dates back to the 1950s, when the Foundation made a grant to the then-obscure writer from Greenwich Village, for the research and writing of the book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Now more than fifty years later, Jane Jacobs’ work remains one of the most influential books ever written on urban design. In previous years the Medal has been awarded to honorees who have been undertaking work that advances the spirit of Jane Jacobs within New York City.
“It is a great honor to award The Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs’ Medal to our first-ever global winners, Dr. Joan Clos and PK Das,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “It is fitting that during the week of Habitat III, the effort spearheaded by Mr. Clos, we honor and recognize his tireless efforts to elevate the global discussion on resilience through smart urban development. And this is the perfect moment to honor Mr. Das, as we look ahead to implementing the New Urban Agenda, his vision for Mumbai and reimagining its citizens’ access to open space and improved affordable housing in one of the most densely populated cities on the planet serves as a model for all.”
“I am delighted to be nominated for this distinguished award. It is deeply gratifying to witness a developing worldwide consensus over the recognition of the power of urbanization as a driver for wealth, employment and human progress. The New Urban Agenda is an opportunity for achieving inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities for all,” said Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
“With the expansion of cities public spaces are sharply declining, both in physical and democratic terms. Cities are increasingly being divided. We are producing more backyards of discrimination, neglect and abuse of people and places, even natural areas are not spared. Our challenge is to integrate these fragmented and disparate backyards into unified, just and equal cities. For the achievement of this objective, planning and architecture are incredible democratic tools of socio-environmental change, that I actively pursue through collective endeavor. I am deeply motivated and honored by this prestigious first international Jane Jacobs Award being conferred on me,” said PK Das, Architect, Activist, Mumbai.
Throughout his distinguished career in public service and diplomacy, Dr. Clos has been leader in the global discussion of sustainable urban development. As Executive Director of the UN-Habitat since 2010, he has spearheaded UN-Habitat’s global conference in Quito, which will set the New Urban Agenda. Prior to this role, Dr. Clos served the Spanish Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Trade of Spain, and the Mayor of Barcelona. As Mayor of Barcelona, he spurred ambitious investment in Barcelona’s industrial zones. For his commitment to a better urban future, Dr. Clos is a 2016 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Medal.
Mr. Das works to democratize open spaces and urban planning in Mumbai. In addition to his architectural practice, he serves as the chairperson of the Mumbai Waterfronts Centre. Mr. Das and the Mumbai Waterfronts Centre organized the Open Mumbai Plan and exhibitions, which mapped, analyzed, and re-envisioned the city’s open spaces from coastline to parks and gardens and the vast extent of the natural areas. Mr. Das along with Nivara Hakk- a housing rights movement, of which he is the joint convener, has also advocated for the rights of slum dwellers and improved affordable housing. His primary concern has been to integrate the backyards of exclusion and abuse and integrate these disparate fragments for the achievement of just and equal cities. For his work to transform Mumbai and its open spaces, Mr. Das is a 2016 recipient of the Jane Jacobs Medal.
The selection of the Jane Jacobs Medalists and allocation of the prize money was determined by an internationally renowned judging panel chaired by Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. The 2016 Jane Jacobs Medal is administered by The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS).]]>
MAS congratulates Governor Cuomo for his leadership in taking an important first step toward a new Penn Station. Presented at the Association for a Better New York luncheon yesterday, the plan will address some of Penn’s most visible deficiencies: low-slung ceilings, rundown public spaces, poor signage, limited amenities, and cramped corridors. We look forward to learning more about how the proposed work will affect capacity at the track level as additional details become available. For now, visit the Governor’s website to learn more.]]>
MAS has been working with partners including the Brownsville Partnership, the Brownsville Community Justice Center and Friends of Brownsville Parks to support community-based planning and advocacy since 2013. On June 4th MAS helped plan and facilitate a community discussion about Betsy Head Park, resulting in a set of resident identified priorities around activities, safety, cleanliness, facilities, open space, furniture and equipment and circulation of the park.
You can read more about the June 4th discussion and other programs MAS has partnered on in Brownsville, here: http://www.mas.org/betsy-head-park-community-discussion/.
You can view an infographic containing a list of community priorities for Betsy Head Park here: http://www.mas.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Betsy-Head-Park-Map-Infographic.pdf
Betsy Head Design Charrette
Betsy Head Park
Betsy Head Park Community Discussion. Photo Credit: Alanna Vaughns
Betsy Head Park Community Discussion. Photo Credit: Alanna Vaughns
For more information please contact Joanna Crispe, Director of Community Engagement and Education, at email@example.com.]]>
The Municipal Art Society commends the Council for making the appropriate decision for the Inwood community, reinforcing trust in the public review process. We hope the decision will encourage continued public engagement regarding the future development of the site and similar land use decisions.
The rezoning was the first project subject to the application of the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) requirements. Passed by City Council in March 2016, MIH is one of the key mechanisms designed to achieve the affordable housing goals to build or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over a ten-year period, outlined in the Mayor’s Housing New York Plan. As such, the Broadway Sherman rezoning had the potential to be a precedent setting project with citywide implications.
Along with many civic organizations and neighborhood residents, MAS maintained its opposition to the project throughout the public review process. Despite design modifications made by Arcadia Sherman during negotiations, MAS argued that the project would still set a harmful precedent for inappropriate, out-of-scale development in the Inwood neighborhood. Furthermore, MAS argued that the selected income thresholds did not adequately reflect the socioeconomic conditions of the neighborhood. For more details on the project, see our technical summary.
The project had initially been scheduled for a vote by the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises on August 9. However, the decision was postponed to the last date of the public review process to allow local Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez more time to negotiate with Arcadia Sherman and the City. On August 15, the day before the Council was set to vote, Rodriguez, addressing a crowd of over 100 residents at the project site, stated “We’ve now been able to get to a point where I feel it is in the community’s best interest to not move this spot rezoning forward.”
In light of this decision, MAS understands that the City faces a tremendous challenge in achieving its affordable housing goals. MAS is encouraged by the level of public involvement in Inwood and hopes it carries over to the Inwood NYC Neighborhood Planning Initiative. We are confident the neighborhood can work with the City to address its affordable housing needs and manage its future growth on a community level. We also hope that the Broadway Sherman decision stimulates much needed public discourse citywide on critical land use decisions that have the potential for long-range environmental and socioeconomic impacts.]]>
If approved, the Broadway Sherman rezoning in Inwood would facilitate the City’s first development under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) zoning text amendment passed by City Council in March 2016. MIH is one of the key mechanisms utilized by the City to achieve the affordable housing goals to build or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over a ten-year period as outlined in the Mayor’s Housing New York Plan. Under the proposed rezoning, the project developer Arcadia Sherman Avenue LLC (Arcadia) is proposing to construct a 369,000-square foot (sf), mixed-use, primarily residential building consisting of 15 stories on a site directly across Broadway from Fort Tryon Park in an ethnically diverse neighborhood characterized by 5- to 7-story residential buildings. As such, the Broadway Sherman rezoning has the potential to be a precedent setting project with citywide implications. This document summarizes the evolution of the project and the public review processes involved, and provides clarity on the various issues and the involvement of The Municipal Art Society of New York.
Initial proposal from Arcadia Sherman Avenue LLC certified by Department of City Planning January 19, 2016 (CEQR Negative Declaration and ULURP Certification)
*Note: The January 19, 2016 Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) evaluated a 540,635-square foot (sf), 27-story, 280-foot building with 475 DUs in order to address the highest potential impact development scenario.
The Municipal Art Society delivered testimony in opposition to the City Planning Commission on May 25, 2016
**2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates
Arcadia Sherman Avenue LLC revised its proposal after negotiating with elected Officials (Evaluated in revised EAS, dated June 20, 2016)
***Note: The June 20, 2016 EAS evaluated a 431,725-sf, 17-story, 175-foot building in order to address the highest potential impact development scenario.
The Municipal Art Society delivered testimony reasserting opposition to the NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises on July 12, 2016
NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises postpones vote
Since it was certified for ULURP in January 2016, the project has undergone several changes in terms of height, scale, levels of affordability, and the framework for the analysis in the environmental review process. As such, MAS reasserts that the City carefully examine all facets of the proposed development, including the potential long-term environmental and economic impacts on the neighborhood, including Fort Tryon Park before moving forward with this project. Accordingly, MAS strongly urges the Subcommittee to reject the proposed zoning map amendment and request an alternate design that minimizes environmental affects and includes an affordable housing component that accurately reflects the socioeconomic needs of the Inwood neighborhood.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York is a non-profit committed to advocating for intelligent urban planning, design, and preservation policy. MAS has a particularly long and celebrated history in East Midtown, successfully leading the fight to preserve Grand Central Terminal.
When the Department of City Planning first released their plans to rezone a large portion of East Midtown Manhattan in 2012, MAS worked with area stakeholders and a variety of planning experts to help ensure the future vitality of this important neighborhood. Much of this effort culminated in a report, East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future, which laid out recommendations for an improved planning framework for the City.
In 2013, the Historic Districts Council, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and MAS identified 16 buildings worthy of landmark designation and presented this list to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). In response, the LPC has calendared 12 buildings, and has held hearings for five items today:
We are grateful to the LPC for taking action on this selection of important historic resources. However, several of the buildings that we recommended for designation, and were identified as eligible by LPC, remain unprotected. In addition, many were identified as projected or potential development sites in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the East Midtown Rezoning (denoted by an asterisk), virtually guaranteeing that these remarkable buildings would be demolished. LPC should immediately calendar the remaining six buildings it considered eligible for designation:
We would also urge that LPC reconsider the remaining two buildings on the joint list:
In sum, we strenuously ask the LPC to broaden their efforts to preserve the architectural legacy of East Midtown as embodied by these eight historic sites.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) herein provides comments on the Notice of Filing (NOF) for the proposed site selection of Block 728, Lots 34 and 36, and any other property in the immediate vicinity which may be necessary for the proposed project, for the construction of a new, approximately 300-seat primary school facility in Community School District No. 15, in Brooklyn.
With regard to the overall project, MAS opposes any plan that would involve the demolition of the 18th Police Precinct Station House and Stable. Designed by architect George Ingram between 1890 and 1892, both structures are listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and are individual New York City landmarks. As such, these structures warrant protection and rehabilitation. We urge the School Construction Authority (SCA) to either select an alternate site for the construction of the school, or sensitively preserve the two buildings by incorporating them into any new design.
As part of its site selection process the SCA was required to conduct an alternative sites analysis for eight other potential sites for a school facility in Community School District No. 15 in Brooklyn. Three sites were eliminated from consideration based a variety of issues, (environmental concerns, size/shape of lot, proximity to MTA train line, etc.). A fourth site was eliminated because SCA determined that the existing building could not be renovated to accommodate a pre-kindergarten facility. A fifth site, 177 25th Street is now under lease with the Department of Education (DOE) for a 108-seat pre-kindergarten facility. The site at 4002 Fort Hamilton Parkway was deemed too cost-prohibitive based on the building’s deteriorated condition. The remaining two sites identified by SCA in the NOF are still undergoing “various studies” to determine if they are appropriate and can accommodate a small public school facility.
We contend that the protected, historic status of the 18th Police Precinct Station House and Stable should be an equally important consideration in site selection and offer the following comments:
To reiterate: in no uncertain terms, the MAS is entirely opposed to demolition of the landmark 18th Police Precinct Station House and Stable.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) commends the level of city engagement and community involvement in the Bay Street Corridor @ Downtown Staten Island Initiative. We support the goals of the City to rezone this area from manufacturing to residential and commercial zoning districts to create opportunities for affordable housing, increase economic development, and improve open space and infrastructure. MAS also recognizes that the Bay Street Corridor is one of 15 neighborhoods in which the City seeks to encourage density and apply the requirements of Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH).
The proposed project is expected to result in an incremental increase of approximately 2,557 new dwelling units, approximately 260,000 square feet (sf) of new commercial uses and approximately 49,000 sf of community facility space throughout the 20 block project area. We understand that the project could facilitate a maximum of approximately 700 affordable dwelling units.
MAS requests the following items be included in the Scope of Work to be evaluated in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):
Zoning, Land Use, Public Policy
The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) option has not been chosen at this time and the potential impacts on overall development will vary. The EIS should evaluate an option that would result in the highest number of dwelling units in order to assess the highest possible impact scenario.
Under Task 5: Open Space and Recreation, the Draft Scope of Work (DSOW) states that “because the Project Area does not contain any existing public open space, no open space would be displaced, changed, or have access limited; therefore, the Proposed Project would not result in any direct effects on open space and a detailed assessment is not warranted.” Based on the significant increase in residents and workers anticipated under the rezoning, and the fact that the area is already extremely underserved by open space, MAS would like to see, as part of the overall project, new open space included in the project area.
The EIS should include a shadow analysis of the potential impacts of the project on the Lyons Pool, an individual New York City landmark. This is especially important because under the proposed rezoning, the lot west of the site (181 Bay Street – Block 497, Lot 9) would be rezoned to allow a building with a maximum height of 165 feet.
MAS recommends that each lot to be rezoned should be subject to an individual Phase I Environmental Site Assessment based on the change in land uses in the corridor from manufacturing to residential and commercial districts.
Water and Sewer Infrastructure
The project as proposed would significantly exceed CEQR waste water thresholds for residential and commercial uses located within combined sewer areas in Staten Island. During the June 15 Public Scoping Meeting elected officials and community members discussed the condition of the existing sewer infrastructure in the project area, expressing concern that the additional development facilitated by the rezoning would overwhelm the already inadequate system. In addition, according to DEP 311 data, between years 2010-2014 there have been dozens of complaints reported in relation to street flooding, clogged catch basins, basement flooding, and sewer backups.
The Bay Street Corridor is located within a combined sewershed served by the Port Richmond water pollution control plant (WPCP). The WPCP has a designed capacity to treat 60 million gallons per day and serves an estimated population of 212,685. According to the 2016 EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Report, the control plant is one of the four EPA violating facilities classified as Significant Noncompliance Category I, the most serious level of violation noted in EPA databases. Future development facilitated by the rezoning would further tax the overburdened control plant. Based on this information, the EIS must include a detailed analysis of potential impacts on the sewer’s infrastructure and identify mitigation options for a development scenario that exceeds the capacity of the WPCP.
Because the project is anticipated to result in the generation of more than 50 tons of solid waste per week, we expect the EIS to include a detailed analysis of the impacts on the available waste management capacity in the area. In addition, we recommend that the EIS evaluates the potential impacts of the project on Staten Island’s waste transfer station and identifies and evaluates mitigation measures in the event that adverse impacts are identified.
According to the City’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency’s report, A Stronger More Resilient New York, the Bay Street Corridor is located within one of the city’s most extensive electric networks, ranging over 10,000 acres. The network is also Staten Island’s largest and densest, serving roughly 44,000 buildings. Based on the magnitude of the potential development facilitated by the rezoning, the EIS should include an investigation of the potential impacts of the project on the capacity of the electric network serving the Bay Street Corridor.
We understand that the reasonable worst case development scenario (RWCDS) evaluated in the EIS will disclose the projected amount of energy consumption. In addition, we recommend that the evaluation should include the energy conservation codes likely to be in place in the year 2030, the rezoning build year. According to the New York City Energy Conservation Code, buildings over 50,000 gross square feet (gsf) or larger will be required to upgrade lighting systems by 2025. However, the City Council has recently introduced a bill that would expand the upgrade requirements to buildings 25,000 gsf or larger (Intro. 1165). This bill will likely have a significant impact on the electric network serving the Bay Street Corridor area. Again, as the Bay Street Rezoning build year is 2030, we recommend for the EIS to address this scenario in full detail.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change
Finally, based on the build year 2030, we recommend that the EIS include an analysis of the project’s resiliency in response to the increase in flood risk resulting from sea level rise. According to the 2012 NYC DPC Surge Area map, over 50 percent of the Bay Street Corridor study area was flooded during Hurricane Sandy. Furthermore, an even larger area of the corridor is expected to be included within 100-year flood zone, according to New York City’s Panel on Climate Change projection for the 2050s. As such, MAS believes that the Scope of Work for the Bay Street Corridor EIS should analyze flood risk based on data presented in Table 18-2 from the CEQR Technical Manual (NPCC Baseline Climate and Mean Annual Changes).
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) asserts that this project, as currently proposed, would set a harmful precedent for inappropriate, out-of-scale development in the Inwood neighborhood. We urge the subcommittee to reject the proposed zoning map amendment and request an alternate design.
While we are pleased with the proposed changes regarding the affordable housing component, MAS remains concerned that the project would set a precedent for rezonings that facilitate the construction of similar out-of-scale developments in the Inwood area. With a height of 155 feet and approximately 431,725 gross square feet, the project would adversely affect urban design, visual resources, and the neighborhood character in the area.
MAS also questions why the revised Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) submitted June 20, 2016 includes a substantially shorter (14 stories, 150 feet vs. 10 stories, 110 feet) No-Action development than what was used as a basis for the evaluation in the original January 19, 2016 EAS. We question why this fundamental change was made at such a late stage in the project environmental review process.
MAS believes the changes in the project’s affordable housing component accurately reflect the needs of the neighborhood. Under the revised proposal, 50 percent of the residential floor area would be provided as permanently affordable, 20 percent of which (83 dwelling units) will be at 40 percent of the AMI (approximately $31,000 for a family of three) and the 30 percent of the remaining residential floor area (124 dwelling units) would range up to 80 percent AMI (approximately $65,000 for a family of three).
Precedent for Similar Development and Need for Sound Planning
MAS believes the Sherman Plaza project presents a timely opportunity for the City to champion sound planning that considers the cumulative effect of non-contextual development, reduces environmental impacts, and preserves valuable public assets, while offering equitable housing opportunities that reflect the needs of the neighborhood.
Fort Tryon Park is the predominant design feature of the neighborhood. The area east of Broadway is characterized by 5- to 7-story residential buildings. Therefore, new development along the Broadway corridor and Fort Tryon Park should be consistent with the existing neighborhood fabric and avoid impacts on the park.
Overall, the Inwood-Washington Heights neighborhood is facing major changes, as evidenced by the Inwood NYC Planning Initiative, a comprehensive planning study currently underway to guide the future rezoning and redevelopment of a 100-acre area northeast of the Sherman Plaza site. MAS applauds the efforts by elected officials and City agencies to engage the community in a vision for developing and preserving affordable housing, creating jobs, improving streetscapes, and reclaiming the waterfront and open space. Although it is not part of the initiative, the Sherman Plaza project is a microcosm of the issues that the entire neighborhood will need to address as development pressures mount.
Adverse Impacts on Visual Resources, Urban Design, and Neighborhood Character
Fort Tryon Park is at one of the highest elevations in Manhattan accessible to the public. It features a varied topography and panoramic views of the Hudson River and Palisades. It is one of only ten City-designated scenic landmarks and is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places (S/NL). The Cloisters, at the highest point of the park, is an individual New York City landmark listed on the S/NL and was designed to be the focal point of the Fort Tryon Park landscape. Even at the reduced height of 155 feet, the Sherman Plaza development would alter views from both the Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters as well as views of these landmarks from the adjoining neighborhood.
In addition, a R9A/R8X zoning district would allow a streetwall with a maximum height of 125 feet along Broadway and 105 feet along Sherman Avenue. Under this design, the proposed building would not set back below 10 stories. The current structure on the site, the Packard building, has a streetwall of approximately 30 feet. The surrounding buildings have streetwall heights that do not exceed 40 feet. Under the proposed zoning, the project could exceed the current streetwall by 70 feet or more, which would result in adverse impacts on urban design from a pedestrian perspective, and in turn affect neighborhood character. We do not feel that the EAS fully addresses the potential urban design impacts of the revised proposal.
It is imperative that the City carefully examine all facets of the Sherman Plaza development, including the potential long-term impacts on the neighborhood and Fort Tryon Park.
As such, we strongly urge the subcommittee to reject the proposed zoning map amendment and request an alternate more appropriate design.
Download testimony (PDF) »»]]>
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) supports Intro 1219, but proposes a series of modifications to strengthen the City’s oversight powers for New York’s privately-owned public spaces (POPS).
In our city-wide review of POPS conducted in 2000, MAS and partner Professor Jerold S. Kayden gave 41% of POPS a “marginal” rating and found that over 50% were in some way out of compliance. Despite our findings, City government and community stakeholders still lack a comprehensive and transparent set of mechanisms and oversight processes to ensure that POPS are kept open to the public, in good condition, and in alignment with the needs of the community.
The recent debate about the future of the Water Street POPS underscores the need for better oversight of these cherished public spaces. When POPS are allowed to fall into disrepair or disuse, as happened along the Water Street corridor, the public risks losing these spaces altogether to retail or other private uses without fair compensation to the public benefit. The passage of Water Street Upgrades Text Amendment N 160166 ZRM earlier this month demonstrates that New York City can no longer settle for a hands-off approach to POPS.
As such, MAS supports Intro. 1219 proposed by Council Members Greenfield and Kallos, but we also believe there is an opportunity to improve the city’s POPS further.
We propose the following modifications:
George William and Anna Curtis House (234 Bard Avenue)*
St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church Rectory (1331 Bay Street)*
92 Harrison Street House*
Prince’s Bay Lighthouse Complex (6204 Hylan Boulevard)*
315 Broadway Building*
St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church (401-403 West 125th Street)*
St. Paul Roman Catholic Church (121 East 117th Street)
Together with the items designated on April 12th (read our blog post on those properties as well), we now have 15 new landmarks as a result of action taken on the Backlog. There are another 15 items that await a vote from LPC. Stay tuned!
*MAS delivered testimony in support.]]>
“I’m designating the Stonewall National Monument as the newest addition to America’s National Park System. Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights. I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us. That we are stronger together. That out of many, we are one.”
Barack Hussein Obama
44th President of the United States
The Stonewall Inn became ingrained in American history on June 28, 1969, when a police raid ignited days of disturbance and demonstration. In previous interactions with police, bar patrons had been cooperative, even in the face of routine, government-sanctioned persecution; but on this night they rose up in defiance. The rebellion is credited with sparking the formation of LGBT civil rights organizations across the country. It also resulted in the annual Pride March, now part of Pride Month, which is celebrated by millions worldwide.
The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) was proud to advocate for the designation of the Stonewall Inn as an individual New York City landmark in 2015. Conferring this status upon Stonewall last year was a step forward for our local Landmarks Preservation Commission and our field as a whole—it was the first landmark designated in New York City exclusively to recognize the LGBT rights movement.
Now we celebrate our first national monument dedicated to this struggle. We hope you have a chance to stop by the Stonewall Inn and Christopher Park soon in honor of this legacy of change within our City.]]>
For more information please visit: http://art-bridge.org/project/brownsville/.]]>