The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
10 March 2015

New City Proposal Would Slash
Neighborhood Zoning Protections;
Hard-Fought-For Height Limits
Would Be Lifted, Now and In the Future

Dear friend,

The City has just released a citywide rezoning proposal which would lift hard-fought-for neighborhood zoning protections and height limits for new development –by as much as 20 to 30%!

The proposal would change the rules for ‘contextual’ zoning districts throughout the city – zoning districts which communities frequently fought hard to secure, to limit the height of new development and keep it in character with the surrounding neighborhood. 

[Over the last decade, GVSHP and our allies have successfully secured contextual zoning protections in the Far West Village (here and here) and throughout the East Village (here and here).]  Contextual zoning also applies to areas around 14th Street, most of Hudson Square and Chelsea, and throughout neighborhoods like the Upper East and West Sides and Tribeca.  But under this proposal, in all of these areas, the height limits for new development would be lifted across the board, by up to 20-30%.

GVSHP has also proposed contextual rezonings in the South Village and along the University Place and Broadway corridors.  Under the existing rules, the contextual rezonings we have proposed would protect those neighborhoods and ensure that new development remains in context with its surroundings.  These proposals have strong support from the local communities and elected officials.  But under this new plan, any contextual rezoning of these neighborhoods would have to allow taller new buildings than we proposed -- as much as 20-30% higher than we proposed, and than current rules allow.

Additionally, while height limits are mandated in ‘contextual’ zoning districts, current zoning also encourages lower buildings in many non-contextual residential zoning districts of our neighborhood and throughout the city, providing incentives for new developments to abide by the same height limits found in contextual zones. 

But under this plan, those height limits would also be lifted, by as much as 20-30%.

This plan would clearly have an enormously profound and far-reaching impact upon our neighborhood and our city.
  The City’s proposal is now beginning the public review and approval process; in the coming weeks and months, local Community Boards, the Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council will hold public hearings and vote upon the plan (see GVSHP's letter to elected officials outlining our concerns here.)  As soon as those have been scheduled, we will let you know.



Andrew Berman
Executive Director

You Help Make it Happen!