Historically, St. George was one of Staten Island’s main commercial hubs and became the borough’s civic center with the opening of Borough Hall in 1907, followed by the St. George Public Library and the Richmond County Courthouse. It is the most densely developed neighborhood in Staten Island, with a mix of single-family homes and a large number of rental and owner-occupied apartment buildings. The neighborhood’s easy access to Manhattan, via ferry, has made it a more attractive, lower-cost alternative for many commuters. However, as other parts of Staten Island have experienced commercial and residential growth of over the past several decades, investment in St. George and its neighboring communities on the North Shore have not kept pace, resulting in vacant office buildings throughout the area. Recently, the area has witnessed encouraging signs of reinvestment in new retail establishments and pockets of new development underway or completed on Bay Street, Central Avenue and along Richmond Terrace.
The entire civic/commercial area of St. George is zoned C4-2, a commercial district which also allows residential and community facility uses. In 2005, in response to inappropriate townhouse development in commercial districts throughout the borough, the Mayor’s Growth Management Task Force recommended zoning text amendments that included interim rules for St. George and a commitment to review the area and propose appropriate long-term solutions. These interim rules were adopted by the city in December 2005 and mandated that any new buildings with residential uses must be constructed to pursuant to the Quality Housing Program. The text amendment also prohibited residential uses on the ground floor and limited residential buildings heights to 70 feet. No building heights were set for commercial or community facility buildings. The C4-2 district covers the entire civic/commercial area of St. George and the ground-floor commercial/retail requirement may not be appropriate for all streets and may result in additional community facilities. These interim regulations have limited appropriate reinvestment in St. George.
Existing Land Use
The study area consists of a 12 block area in the heart of St. George comprised of 215 properties. St. George is located at the intersection of two main streets, Richmond Terrace and Bay Street, that serve as commercial and bus corridors providing access to North Shore communities from Mariner’s Harbor and Port Richmond to Stapleton and Rosebank. St. George is also the main transportation hub of Staten Island providing easy access to:
Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry
Tottenville on the South Shore and all 21 stations in between along the Staten Island Railway
Destinations throughout the borough via 23 MTA bus lines.
There are several distinct areas within the proposed rezoning area. One area is the civic center with Borough Hall, the Courts, the New York Public Library, and City government buildings centered around Hyatt and Stuyvesant Streets. Another area consists of the waterfront condominium loft conversions on the waterfront east of Bay Street and adjacent to the ferry. On Bay Street, across from this area are large office buildings with retail uses on the ground floor. Upland and to the north are the largely residential areas located around Wall Street, and St. Marks Place characterized by large apartment buildings, vacant lots, and several multi-family wood frame homes. The western edge of the study area on Montgomery Avenue is characterized by one- and two- story residential, mixed use, and transportation use buildings. Finally, the commercial area of Victory Boulevard consists of four and five story walk-ups with ground floor retail.
The study area also includes Tompkinsville, the historic commercial area fronting Tompkinsville Park and a portion of Victory Boulevard. This area consists of four and five story residential walk-ups with ground floor retail. The Department of Parks and Recreation is in construction with the renovation of Tompkinsville Park. The park is framed by pedestrian-friendly retail shops, except for one prominent location across from the northern part of the park which is the site of a fast-food franchise and large parking lot which is out of context with its surroundings.
St. George boasts several cultural and recreational institutions:
Richmond County Ballpark, home to the Staten Island Yankees, is located on the waterfront adjacent to the Ferry terminal.
Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences Museum is located on Stuyvesant Place and Wall Street.
The St. George Theater, a 2,800 seat auditorium, is located on Hyatt Street.
The future National Lighthouse Museum is located on the waterfront adjacent to the Ferry terminal.
Hyatt Street and Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island Borough Hall is located in St. George
Stuyvesant Place: mixed use residential and retail
Wall Street: topography slopes downs to New York Harbor
Existing Zoning: The proposed special district generally coincides with an existing C4-2 district in St. George and is roughly bounded by Hamilton Avenue on the north Richmond Terrace on the east, Victory Boulevard on the south and Montgomery Avenue on the west. The rezoning area also includes an area between Victory Boulevard, Van Duzer and Bay Streets that is zoned R3-2 with a C1-2 zoning overlay. View the zoning comparison chart.
The C4-2 zoning district allows a variety of uses including commercial, community facility and residential. C4 districts are mapped in regional commercial centers and serve a larger area that neighborhood shopping areas. Pursuant to the “interim” regulations adopted in 2005, the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for a C4-2 zoning district varies by use and the width of the street. On narrow streets the Residential FAR is 2.2. On wide streets the Residential FAR is 3.0. The Community Facility FAR is 4.8 and the Commercial FAR is 3.4, regardless of the street width. Parking requirements for the commercial uses are 1 space per 300 square foot of floor area. Parking requirements for residential uses are 50% of dwelling units on narrow streets and 70% of units on wide streets.
Most Residential and Commercial districts in Staten Island were designated a Lower Density Growth Management Area (LDGMA) in August 2004 and specific LDGMA rules for commercial areas were adopted in December 2005 to prohibit inappropriate townhouse development in commercially zoned areas. The zoning regulations for St. George were not intended to be permanent and were adopted with a commitment to review the zoning regulations as they applied in St. George. The text amendments mandated that new buildings containing residential use be developed pursuant to the Quality Housing Program. In addition, the regulations prohibited residential uses on the ground floor and set overall height limits of 55 feet on narrow streets and 70 feet on wide streets. Commercial and community facility buildings do not have a height limit, but are subject to the sky exposure plane.
In addition, the Waterfront Zoning provisions apply to that portion of the C4-2 district located along the waterfront. These rules supersede the LDGMA rules and have different use, bulk and height regulations.
R3-2 with a C1-2 zoning overlay
The R3-2/C1-2 zoning allows a variety of uses including commercial, community facility and residential. Residential buildings have a maximum FAR of .6 and commercial uses have a maximum FAR of 1.0 Residential and mixed use buildings are permitted to have a maximum perimeter wall height of 26 feet and a peak height of 35 feet. Commercial buildings are permitted to be 30 feet tall or two stories for most retail uses. Parking requirements for commercial uses are one space per 300 square foot for most uses. Parking requirements for residential uses are 100% or one space per dwelling unit. Parking is allowed to be waived for small zoning lots.