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Hudson Square Rezoning, zoning proposals to encourage housing development in an area characterized by shifting land uses and large loft buildings on Manhattan's west side north of Canal Street, 2002.


The Department of City Planning initiated this study of the Hudson Square area in response to land use changes, increasing development pressure, and a growing number of BSA variance applications to allow residential use. Approximately 34 blocks in size, the study area is bounded by the West Side Highway on the west, Morton and Barrow streets on the north, Sixth Avenue and Hudson Street on the east, and Canal Street on the south. The area is zoned with three manufacturing districts which allow commercial and industrial uses at varying densities ranging from 2.0 to 10.0 FAR, but prohibit new residential uses.

The heart of the area is characterized by large loft buildings which at one time contained a concentration of printing and graphic arts-related firms. Over the last several years, there has been considerable reinvestment in these buildings, and a shift in employment and land uses from printing and manufacturing toward commercial and office-based uses. At the same time, the area continues to contain a number of significant industrial uses, including Federal Express and United Parcel Service (UPS) distribution facilities. With the planned development of the Hudson River Park to the west, as well as the granting of several BSA variances for residential use at the northern and southern edges of the study, the broader area is confronting increasing development pressures and the prospects of significant land use change. This study recommends rezoning to allow residential use and retention of existing manufacturing zoning to guide future land use and development.

Several key land use issues inform the zoning recommendations for the area:

  • A major portion of the existing medium- and high-density manufacturing districts have been developed as a significant commercial office center. The M1-6 district (high-density) and portions of the M1-5 district (medium-density) generally south of Leroy Street contain full-blockfront, pre-war loft buildings, formerly home to printing and manufacturing firms, and now occupied primarily by commercial offices and graphic arts firms. Substantial investment and job growth have resulted from the upgrading of these large floor plate loft buildings to accommodate commercial office use. The current M1-6 zoning regulations that prohibit new residential development has encouraged reinvestment for commercial and industrial uses in part by ensuring the availability of nonresidential floor space.

  • The northern and southern edges of the study area have an existing residential presence and are also experiencing increased pressures for new residential uses. Currently zoned for manufacturing and commercial uses, the M1-6 and M2-4 area south of Spring Street (between Hudson, Canal, and West streets) and the area generally north of Leroy Street (M1-5) have been experiencing residential development pressures. The existing zoning designations do not reflect either the current land uses or built character, which are mixed-use and medium-density development. Moreover, these areas have been the subject of several BSA use variance applications that have raised issues of scale, density, and neighborhood character.

The Department's zoning recommendations (Figure 1: Proposed Zoning) provide a balanced plan for the area that is intended to guide future growth and development. These recommendations call for allowing new residential development at moderate densities in the northern and southern portions of the study area, balanced with the retention of the existing manufacturing zoning in the other areas in order to ensure space and opportunities for commercial and light industrial investment and development.

hudson square proposed zoning area

  • Rezone to C6-2A the area south of Spring Street (bounded by Hudson, Canal, and Washington streets). This area is characterized by small and irregularly shaped blocks with small lots and low-scale buildings. The current zoning for most of this area -- M1-6 (10.0 FAR) -- permits a density and scale that is significantly different than the established built character. Rezoning would strengthen the existing mixed-use character by allowing new residential development at a scale and density more appropriate for the area, while continuing to permit a wide range of commercial and light industrial uses. The following three-dimensional image is an example of the bulk form that is possible under the proposed contextual zoning in context.

graphic of rezoning area to c6-2a


Proposed zoning:
  C6-2A (R8A equivalent)

Permitted Uses:
  Community Facility

Maximum FAR: 6.02

Max. building height: 120'-0"

Streetwall requirement:
  60'-0" to 85'-0"

  • Rezone to M1-5/R7X north of Leroy and Clarkson streets. Zoned M1-5 (5.0 FAR), industrial activity in this area is limited, and includes package delivery facilities, food production, and smaller auto-related uses. Several buildings house commercial offices. There is a substantial residential community in the area due in part to previously approved BSA variances to permit residential uses in the northern portion of the M1-5 district, and the close proximity to residential portions of the West Village. Rezoning the M1-5 area generally north of Leroy and Clarkson streets to a special mixed-use district - R7X/M1-5 (5.0 Residential, Community Facility, Commercial, Manufacturing) - would maintain the existing permitted density and uses, allow residential conversions and new residential development as-of-right, and allow expansion of existing industrial and commercial uses. The following three-dimensional image is an example of the bulk form that is possible under the proposed mixed-use zoning in context.

graphic of rezoning area to m1-5/r7x


Proposed zoning:

Permitted Uses:
  Community Facility

Maximum FAR: 5.0

Max. building height: 125'-0"

Streetwall requirement:
  60'-0" to 85'-0"

  • Retain manufacturing zoning in other areas. The majority of the M1-6, M2-4, and M1-5 zoning districts continue to have a strong industrial and commercial presence. During the 1990s, these areas experienced substantial investment and job growth that was facilitated by the current zoning. The scale and density permitted by the existing zoning is generally consistent with the character of these areas. Retaining the existing zoning, which prohibits residential uses, would continue to allow the widest range of commercial and industrial uses.

PDF Document Hudson Square Rezoning Full Report (2.6 megabytes)

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