February 2004
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Archive for February, 2004

A Planning Policy Program for the Far West Side

The public and private sectors are currently embroiled in an intense debate on the future of what is currently the primarily industrial Far West Side of Manhattan. Changes in the real estate market for land in this area are placing increasing development pressure on neighborhoods from Clinton to the Meatpacking District. While the Department of City Planning is in the process of preparing a comprehensive redevelopment strategy for this area to amend zoning, create a new urban design framework, and improve transportation, among other objectives, NYC 2012 is promoting an Olympics stadium, broadcast facilities and a new eight-acre open space. Continue Reading>>

TWA Terminal Named as One of the Nation’s Most Endangered Places

The effort to save Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA Terminal from encroaching development got a big boost last week when the building was included on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s “Most Endangered Places”. The MAS nominated the Terminal to the list in hopes that it would help raise awareness of the current threat to the landmark building and to aid fundraising and advocacy for its protection. While this listing does not ensure protection against the Port Authority’s insensitive development plans, it just may help persuade the Federal Aviation Administration to disapprove of them. Stay tuned.

BSA: Hardship Safety Valve or Alternative Zoning Forum?

The BSA has existed since New York City’s Zoning Resolution was created in 1916. It was created to vary the zoning laws “where there are practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship in the way of carrying out the strict letter of the provisions of” the law. From its very inception however, those seeking to build nonconforming structures exploited the BSA’s vague mandate. Drafters of the 1961 Zoning Resolution recognized the problem and set about crafting a provision that would provide more guidance for the BSA and the Courts. The resulting “five findings” contained in Section 72-21 of the Zoning Resolution require applicants to demonstrate unique physical conditions, inability to realize a reasonable investment return, minimum negative impact on the essential character of the neighborhood, that the hardship was not self-created and that the relief requested is the minimum required to offset the harm. Continue Reading>>

Hudson River Park: Work in Progress

Two hundred years ago, when the NYC Commissioners released their plan for the City, a reporter remarked on the lack of squares and open spaces in the plan. “Worry not” replied one of the Commissioners “as the Rivers will be our parks.” This promise went unfilled for nearly 200 years, but as the greatest achievement of New York City’s waterfront during the 20th century, Hudson River Park is indeed helping to fulfill it. Continue Reading>>

Community Gardens Lawsuit Settles

On September 17, 2002, Mayor Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced a settlement to the longstanding lawsuit that the AG’s office brought against the City in 1999 in response to the Giuliani administration’s plan to auction off more than 100 community gardens. The nearly 700 GreenThumb gardens throughout New York City have been under an injunction for the past several years, pending the outcome of this lawsuit. Continue Reading>>