Building height limits approved for Lower East Side, East Village
The City Council voted today to put the lower back into the Lower East Side, approving zoning changes that would limit building heights on most blocks to eight stories.
Today we take the first step in preserving the low-scale nature of our historic community, said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan), who represents most of the area.
The rezoned area 111 blocks bounded roughly by 13th Street to the north, Grand and Delancy streets to the south, the Bowery to the west and Avenue D to the east has seen a surge in development in recent years.
Advocates for the plan argued that high-rise construction, exemplified by the 20-story Hotel on Rivington, threatened the character of the neighborhood.
Up until the economic downturn we were facing a plethora of out of place, out of context high-rises, said Councilman Alan Gerson (D-Manhattan), who represents part of the area.The council voted 42-0 to approve the plan, which includes provisions to preserve and create new affordable housing and assistance for tenants faced with eviction.
However, not everyone was happy about the changes.
Josephine Lee, coordinator for the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, called the plan racist because it could push high-rise development into Chinatown, putting pressure on longtime residents.
When you protect only one neighborhood, the developers are going to go to the outskirts, she said. Evictions on Bowery in Chinatown have already begun.
The approved zoning caps heights at 80 feet for most blocks and allows for 120 feet on the larger streets, including Houston, Delancy and Avenues A, B and C. Buildings on Chrystie Street can go up to 145 feet, Gerson said.