NYU Dorm/Post Office air rights hearing - please attend & testify
Next Tuesday, February 6th, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) will hear an appeal filed by neighbors of the planned 26-story NYU mega-dorm on East 12th Street, challenging the decision by the NYC Department of Buildings to allow the transfer of air rights from the neighboring Cooper Station Post Office to the site. ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT OVERDEVELOPMENT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND ENFORCEMENT OF ZONING PROTECTIONS IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND THIS HEARING AND WRITE TO THE BSA ABOUT THIS CRITICAL, PRECEDENT-SETTING CASE.
A 26-story dorm is being built at 120 East 12th Street for NYU. The developer of the dorm purchased air rights from the neighboring Post Office with the intention of increasing the size of the planned development by about 65%. While air rights transfers from neighboring properties are legal under New York City zoning regulations, this case is special. The air rights come from the Post Office, a federal agency which is NOT subject to NYC zoning regulations or NYC law. Therefore GVSHP and neighbors argue the air rights transfer should NOT be authorized by the City, because the City has no power to enforce its terms.
Under typical air rights transfers, the City allows development rights to be moved from one plot of land to an adjacent plot, on the condition that once the development rights have been moved from one property, the owner who sold them cannot use them to build on their land anymore. The City has the power to ensure that this “transfer” is enforced on private property, because private property owners cannot build without permits from the City, and the police have the power to enforce this rule. Therefore in a typical air rights transfer, we can be assured that the amount of development never exceeds what the zoning allows.
However, if the entity which “sells” the air rights is a federal agency, like the Post Office, the City has absolutely no power to enforce the terms of the sale, or to prevent the Post Office from again building on their land, using air rights they supposedly “transferred.” In a case like this, we could therefore end up with TWO 26-story (or larger!) buildings on these sites, even though the zoning is only supposed to allow one, and there would be nothing the City or the public could do to stop the new development.
THIS HEARING IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT WILL IMPACT WHETHER OR NOT THE CITY CONTINUES TO ALLOW THESE TYPES OF UNENFORCEABLE AIR RIGHTS TRANSFERS, WHICH HAVE BEEN PROLIFERATING THROUGHOUT NEW YORK.
HOW TO HELP:
- COME TO THE BOARD OF STANDARDS AND APPEALS HEARING NEXT TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 6th at 10:00 A.M. at 40 RECTOR STREET (btw. Washington and West Streets), and go to the 6th floor hearing room. You will be given an opportunity to testify, and should bring 10 written copies to submit if you can. CLICK HERE for a sample letter you can use as testimony at the hearing.
- WRITE TO THE BOARD OF STANDARDS AND APPEALS IN ADVANCE OF THE HEARING EVEN IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND. CLICK HERE for a sample letter you can use (mailing or faxing the letter is best, but you can e-mail as well).