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Planning New York’s Far West Side: Civic Groups Share Their Visions

hudson yards from above

Over the course of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) for the Hudson Yards proposal, several of the city’s leading civic groups, including the Municipal Art Society, have recognized many of the same opportunities for improving redevelopment plan.

The 33rd/32nd Street corridor west of Penn Station should be the focus of commercial density, both the American Planning Association (APA) and the MAS say. The Hell’s Kitchen community also expresses this view.

Focusing on the 32nd Street area can help create a more natural extension of the existing midtown commercial district, as suggested by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). It also offers better connections between the new commercial district and the new Moynihan Station to be developed in the Farley Building.

More attention to waterfront connections is another important issue for the APA, AIA, and the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Council (CHPC). They fear the current plan may cut off access to the waterfront by extending the Javits Center north to 42nd Street and by creating a veritable wall of ultra-high density buildings along 11th Avenue. The MAS has stated this in its independent testimony as well.

The civic groups agree that the Javits Center and the 39th Street corridor could be improved by considering other design alternatives. The MAS has offered a solution that would expand the center westward over the West Side Highway. The AIA agrees that this is a viable option.

The MAS also believes 11th Avenue should play a more active role in the life of new development. The AIA, APA, and CHPC agree, and have called for retail and streetwall requirements on 11th Avenue that would improve the area facing the Javits Center.

More could also be done to improve the plan’s open space. The APA and MAS have voiced concern over building parks on roof tops, and have emphasized the need to treat open space as a network which includes Hudson River Park.

Perhaps most importantly, MAS, APA, AIA, CHPC, the Hell’s Kitchen community, and several elected officials believe that the proposed, commercial-heavy zoning is too rigid. These groups agree that the city should be zoning for a more flexible mix of uses, and buildings that conform with the zoning “vocabulary” that exists today.