Possible rezoning in North Tribeca delights residents


BY Aline Reynolds

The northern section of Tribeca, once a predominantly industrial neighborhood, will see more residential and mixed-commercial developers if new zoning rules go into effect.

The Department of City Planning unanimously voted in favor of the rezoning of approximately 25 blocks of North Tribeca last Wednesday. It now awaits approval from the City Council, which has 50 days to vote on the plan.

The new zoning will foster residential and mixed-commercial development that is in line with the neighborhood’s new character. It will also promote new affordable housing through an inclusionary housing program, in which property owners can receive additional residential floor space in exchange for permanently low-income apartment units.

The area subject to rezoning is bounded by Canal Street to the north, West Street to the west, North Moore, Beach, and Walker Streets to the south, and Broadway to the east.

“Northern Tribeca is taking its place among Lower Manhattan’s most vibrant and livable historic neighborhoods. I am delighted to vote ‘yes,’” said D.C.P. director Amanda Burden.

The rezoning proposal, she added, will help “complete the transformation of Northern Tribeca by allowing residential use as-of-right with an appropriate mix of uses while protecting the built character of the area.”

Residential developers, in other words, will be able to build without a previously required city permit.

the D.C.P. worked collaboratively with Community Board One to decide on the provisions of the new zoning plan. The board expressed its approval of the plan in a resolution, which states, “The proposed rezoning allows for the conversion of existing buildings to loft dwelling use and allows for new residential development with bulk limitations that reflect the character and scale of the existing Tribeca Mixed Use District.”

Northern Tribeca was formerly a manufacturing district, which had tighter restrictions on commercial developments and nearly prohibited new residential buildings.

Tribeca resident Liat Silberman, a member of C.B. 1’s Tribeca Committee, deems the current zoning “inappropriate.”

“We have no manufacturing here anymore,” she said. “Manufacturing has smells and noises – this is now primarily a residential neighborhood.”

“I think it’s good they’re rezoning the area,” she added. “It’ll be less of a hassle for [residential] developers and people doing renovations.”

Michael Connolly, co-chair of the Tribeca Committee, agreed. “Keeping that zone doesn’t serve its original purpose to encourage or maintain manufacturing in that area,” he said.

The rezoning plan also consists of new height and size restrictions to prevent large hotels and big box retail stores from dominating the neighborhood.

“The benefit is that you avoid taller buildings being built throughout the district,” Connolly said. “That preserves the historic integrity of the architecture and the feeling of the area.”

Retail size restrictions include a ban on combining ground floor spaces in separate buildings; a 5,000-square-foot cap on the size of ground floor retail establishments located on narrow streets; and a 10,000 square-foot cap per establishment for buildings located on wide streets without a special permit. The size limits will “maintain and enhance the North Tribeca neighborhood character,” according to the C.B. 1 resolution.