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June 7, 2010

Rachaele Raynoff (City Planning) -- (212) 720-3471


Proposal would reinforce residential blocks and prevent out-of-scale development

June 7, 2010 – City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden today launched public review for the Washington & Greenwich Streets Rezoning proposal to protect the historic character of six blocks in the neighborhood. The rezoning would preserve the predominately residential area from out-of-scale commercial buildings, establish height limits and ensure that future development is predictable and matches the neighborhood’s context. The proposal was developed in response to concerns from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Community Board 2 about out-of-character development, and builds on the success of the 2005 Far West Village contextual rezoning.

Commissioner Burden said, “Although this is a small rezoning, covering just six blocks, the Far West Village has a very special neighborhood character and feel. This rezoning proposal would ensure the historic building stock on Washington and Greenwich Streets is protected and that the residential community is no longer threatened by out-of- character development.”

“In 2005, my district office together with local community organizations worked closely with the Department of City Planning to protect the irreplaceable character of Manhattan’s Far West Village,” said Speaker Quinn. “The current rezoning continues our efforts to prevent out of character development in this historic community. I am grateful for the time and attention that Commissioner Burden has invested in looking at the Far West Village over the past several years. Without the leadership of Community Board 2 and the tireless efforts of the local community groups, this small but critical rezoning proposal would not have been possible.”

The proposed rezoning area is located on the east side of Washington Street between West 10th and West 12th Streets, extending eastward to include the west side of Greenwich Street approximately between West 10th and West 11th Streets. The area currently has no height limits and is largely comprised of residential mid-rise buildings and rowhouses, with a limited number of ground-floor retail spaces along Greenwich and Washington Streets. With the exception of a single lot located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Washington and Charles streets, the entirety of the proposed rezoning area is located within the boundaries of either the Greenwich Village Historic District or the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension, which means that any new development must be reviewed by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Historic district designation does not, however, regulate use, and therefore the existing zoning could allow commercial uses at densities inconsistent with the existing character of the area.

The area is currently zoned C6-1 and allows a wide range of commercial uses, including hotels and office buildings, up to 6.0 Floor Area Ratio (FAR), which does not reflect the neighborhood’s existing residential context. The existing zoning allows a maximum of 6.5 FAR for community facilities and up to 3.44 FAR for residential use and has no height limits or streetwall requirements.

The proposed rezoning would replace the outdated, non-contextual C6-1 zoning with a contextual C1-6A district, which would preserve neighborhood character by establishing height limits, reducing the allowable commercial and community facility FAR and requiring new development to match the historic built character and scale with height limits and streetwalls reflective of the existing rowhouses and four- to five- story residential buildings. Buildings would be required to have a streetwall between 40 and 65 feet high and overall building heights would be limited to 80 feet. Above streetwalls, contextual zoning requires that buildings set back to reduce their visual impact from the street level. New construction within the proposed C1-6A district would be required to line up with adjacent structures to maintain the existing streetwall.

The new C1-6A zoning would allow a slightly higher residential FAR of 4.0, while significantly reducing the commercial FAR from 6.0 to 2.0 and reducing community facility FAR from 6.5 to 4.0. The reduction in the commercial FAR would allow the continued appropriate development of ground-floor retail uses and small scale commercial structures while preserving the residential character of the neighborhood.

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 (DCP) promotes strategic growth and development in the City, in part, by initiating comprehensive, consensus-based planning and zoning changes for individual neighborhoods and business districts. It supports the City Planning Commission and each year reviews more than 500 land use applications for actions such as zoning changes and disposition of City property. The Department assists both government agencies and the public by providing policy analysis and technical assistance relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography and public space.

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