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April 23, 2007

Rachaele Raynoff, Press Secretary -- (212) 720-3471

Zoning for Affordable Housing Key to Proposal

April 23, 2007 – City Planning Director Amanda M. Burden announced the official start of public review for the Department's rezoning proposal for 51 blocks on the West Side of Manhattan from West 97th Street to West 110th Street between Central Park West and Riverside Drive. The proposed contextual rezoning represents a fine-grained approach that reinforces the varied character of this neighborhood, from pre-war apartment buildings on its avenues to brownstones and townhouses on its side streets. It would also eliminate the potential for out-of-context development along Broadway and utilize inclusionary zoning to create incentives for the development and preservation of approximately 127 units of affordable housing. A proposed Manhattan Avenue historic district designation for the area between West 104th and 106th Streets would complement the rezoning. In developing the rezoning proposal, City Planning worked closely with local residents, Westsiders for Responsible Development, Manhattan Community Board 7, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Council members Inez Dickens and Melissa Mark-Viverito.

 “Consistent with the Bloomberg administration's goals of smart growth and neighborhood preservation, which are complementary strategies, we are pleased to have been able to work with these committed officials and neighborhood advocates to achieve our shared goals for preservation and housing through zoning, said Ms. Burden. "The community was clear in its focus on ensuring that any new development in this area of the Upper West Side is more predictable, and wherever possible, offer affordable housing opportunities. This rezoning plan makes all this possible."

The rezoning was prompted initially by concerns about 31- and 37- story towers being built on Broadway between 99th and 100th Streets, and the community's desire to prevent further out-of-scale development. Most of the area is zoned R8 and R7-2 which allow tall towers that are out-of-scale with the prevailing character in many parts of the neighborhood.

Under the proposal, zoning along Broadway would be changed to R9A, which would limit building heights to 145 feet, or about 14 stories, and require a building base that could rise no higher than 102 feet above which the building would have to set back. In conjunction with limiting the heights of new development, the R9A district would allow a modest increase in permitted density, recognizing that Broadway is a wide corridor, well served by subway and bus service. New inclusionary zoning would apply in this district. Under the proposal, the base Floor Area Ratio (FAR) would be increased from the current 6.0 to 6.5. Inclusionary zoning would allow the FAR to be further increased up to 8.5 if 20 percent of the residential floor area is provided as affordable housing for low-income households. The affordable units may be located within the new building or provided in new or rehabilitated affordable units off-site. Off-site units must be within Community District 7 or in an adjacent community district within one half mile radius of the development site. Additional financing incentives for creating or preserving permanently affordable housing could be used in conjunction with the density bonus to create the affordable housing.

Throughout the remainder of the rezoning area, the proposal would map R8B and R8A districts to strictly limit the height and scale of development. The mid-block areas west of Amsterdam Avenue and much of Manhattan Valley would be rezoned to R8B, another contextual district that would ensure that future development will relate to the existing four to six story fabric of these blocks. The R8B zoning district allows up to 4.0 FAR for both residential and community facility uses and limits building heights to 75 feet with a maximum base height of 60 feet.

Along Amsterdam Avenue above West 104th Street and along most of West 106th Street, the existing R8 and R7-2 zoning districts would be changed to R8A, also a contextual district. This would limit the maximum building height to 120 feet and allow a maximum FAR of 6.0.

In addition, to safeguard the early 20th century townhouses along Manhattan Avenue between West 104th and 106th streets, the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) is seeking to designate a new historic district and is expected to vote on the proposal later this spring.

The rezoning plan builds on the Bloomberg administration's commitment to protect the character of the City's unique neighborhoods by ensuring that new development reinforces, and does not undermine, the neighborhood fabric. It also achieves the goal of growing sustainably by providing new housing opportunities along transit rich corridors. Finally, as part of the Bloomberg administration's $7.5 billion affordable housing plan, it provides for affordable housing in order to maintain a variety of housing choices for present and future New Yorkers.

The community board now has 60 days to review the proposal, after which it will go to the Borough President, the City Planning Commission and the City Council as part of the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). For specifics of the zoning proposal or more details on the ULURP timeline, please visit the DCP website.

Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning is responsible for the City's physical and socioeconomic planning, including land use and environmental review; preparation of plans and policies; and provision of technical assistance and planning information to government agencies, public officials, and community boards.

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