Hudson Square rezoning O.K.’d

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  | The City Council in committee has voted to approve the Hudson Square residential rezoning plan, coupled with the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s agreement to vote on designating about half of the unprotected area of the proposed South Village Historic District within the year. The full Council is expected to approve the rezoning later this month.

The Council secured a commitment from L.P.C. to calendar and vote on the next remaining section of the proposed South Village Historic District (the area north of Houston St.) and complete a survey of the proposed district’s final section (the area south of Houston St.) by the end of the year.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, speaking before Wednesday morning’s Council votes, said, “Currently, there are no height restrictions in the district, which could lead to unwanted skyscrapers. Additionally, the outdated prohibition of residential development has led to little foot traffic on nights or weekends hurting the neighborhood’s small businesses.”

The votes by the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and Committee on Land Use, she said, would “help to preserve much of the neighborhood’s beloved character and commercial foundation while also bringing a desired vitality and more open space to attract new residents and businesses.”

Trinity Real Estate, the area’s major property owner, was the applicant for the rezoning.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Community Board 2 and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, among others, had lobbied the Council to vote “no” on the rezoning unless the city moved ahead on South Village landmarking.

“This is incredibly important progress because clearly the Landmarks Preservation Commission was not moving forward with any more of the South Village Historic District,” said Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director. “The commitment to hear and vote upon more than half of the remaining proposed South Village Historic District before the end of the year will help protect this endangered neighborhood from the increased development pressure it faces from this and other rezonings. However,” he added, “we are very concerned about the lack of commitment on landmarking the southern half of this neighborhood and we will continue to fight to preserve this vitally important area.”

In addition, $5.6 million in “mitigation funds” from Trinity, designated for open-space improvements, has now been split between the Dapolito Recreation Center, at Clarkson St. and Seventh Ave. South, and Pier 40. Separate payments of $2.8 million each will go toward the rec center — allowing it to operate its indoor and outdoor pools at the same time — and toward the pier, to help fix its crumbling roof.

Also, the plan O.K.’d by the Council’s Land Use Committee will allow creation of about 130 more affordable housing units in the rezoning district, for a potential total of more than 600.

Trinity additionally has agreed to construct new recreation spaces for community use at the site of a 444-seat elementary school it plans to build at Duarte Square, in the base of a new residential tower.

According to David Gruber, chairperson of C.B. 2, these new spaces will include a 7,500-square-foot, N.C.A.A. standard-size, double-height gym for basketball and other sports and a 2,100-square-foot “flex area.” These facilities will be open to the community during non-school hours, weekends and holidays. Gruber said the hope is for the spaces to be programmed by a third-party operator, similar to, for example, Manhattan Youth.

The rezoning, as previously O.K.’d by City Planning, includes a prohibition of new hotels of more than 100 rooms without a special permit.

Said Gruber, “We truly thank Speaker Quinn and the Council for forging a true win/win compromise on the rezoning.”

Said Glick, “I am pleased that a contribution to Pier 40 can be used toward repair of its roof, which is necessary to preserve the only major playing fields in the park.”

Jason Pizer, Trinity Real Estate’s president, said, “Today’s positive action significantly advances the process launched more than five years ago, and we look forward to the rezoning’s final consideration by the full Council.”

Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district, said, “The Hudson Square rezoning will transform our thriving business neighborhood into a 24/7 community.”

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