August 2016
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Archive for August, 2016

Betsy Head Among Five Parks to Receive a $30 Million Investment

MAS was thrilled to hear about the Mayor’s plan to invest a total of $150 million in five New York City Parks: Saint Mary’s Park in the South Bronx, Freshkills Park on Staten Island, Highbridge Park in Washington Heights in Manhattan, Astoria Park in Queens and Betsy Head Park in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The announcement represents a much needed commitment to investing in the maintenance of existing public assets, and recognition of the critical roles they play in improving quality of life in neighborhoods.

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.

You can view an infographic containing a list of community priorities for Betsy Head Park here

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Broadway Sherman Plaza rezoning has been unanimously rejected by the City Council

After months of negotiations and ongoing debate between a private developer (Arcadia Sherman Avenue LLC), city officials, and the residents of Inwood, the City Council unanimously rejected a proposed rezoning that would have potentially facilitated a 17-story, 355-unit building between Broadway and Sherman Avenue across from Fort Tryon Park.

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.”

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Summary of Public Review for Sherman Plaza Project, C 150438 ZMM, Community District 12, 4650 Broadway (Block 2175, Lot 1), Inwood, New York

Summary of Public Review for Sherman Plaza Project, C 150438 ZMM, Community District 12, 4650 Broadway (Block 2175, Lot 1), Inwood, New York August 11, 2016

Background

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)

  • In January 2016 the applicant was seeking to rezone the 47,354-sf parcel from a R7-2 with partial C2-4 overlay to R9 with full C2-4 overlay. Most R9 districts are mapped along several major thoroughfares in Manhattan. The height of new buildings under R9 is not limited by a cap but is based on lot coverage and open space requirements.*
  • The initial proposed rezoning would facilitate the development of a 415,587-sf, 23-story, 240-ft tall building
  • The development would include: 335 DUs (334,819 sf of residential area), 24,914 sf of retail space, and 15,000 sf of community facility space.
  • The rezoning intended to provide additional height and bulk and triggered the application of MIH regulations.
  • Initially the applicant pursued MIH Option 2, which would impose 30 percent of the residential floor area (100 DUs) at 80 percent of AMI ($65,000 for family of three).
  • The proposal was rejected by Community Board 12 (CB12) and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
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