3rd/4th Avenue Rezoning Hearing Tomorrow
Tomorrow, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed rezoning of the 3rd and 4th Avenue corridors, between 13th and 9th Streets. The rezoning proposal comes after years of efforts by GVSHP, neighbors, Community Board 3, and Councilmember Rosie Mendez to change the outdated and inadequate zoning for the area which encourages enormously out-of-scale hotel and dorm development, such as NYU’s 26-story dorm on East 12th Street. After the city refused to include a change in the zoning for these blocks in the 2008 East Village rezoning, late last year they relented and agreed to include this area in a separate zoning action, which will be heard tomorrow.
Though the proposed rezoning does not go as far as GVSHP and neighbors had urged, it is an improvement. While the current zoning has no height limits, the new zoning would impose an absolute height cap of 120 feet (less than half the height of the NYU dorm). The current zoning strongly encourages dorm and hotel development, while the new zoning will encourage residential development. The current zoning encourages tall, setback towers behind dead plazas, while the new zoning will not allow plazas and will instead require new construction to follow neighborhood context and come out to the streetwall. The new zoning also provides incentives for the retention and creation of affordable housing.
If the City Planning Commission approves the rezoning following tomorrow’s hearing, it then goes to the City Council. If approved there, the rezoning takes immediate effect, and more 26-story dorms would never again be allowed as-of-right. Given that the NYU 2031 expansion plan calls for the university to add up to 1.5 million square feet of space OUTSIDE of the Washington Square Park area in the East Village, Village, and Union Square, it is more important than ever that stricter zoning be put in place in areas such as this where we have seen so much overdevelopment by NYU and other universities in recent years.
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