Tribeca tower gets nod from C.B. 1


By Josh Rogers

Developer Edward Minskoff moved one step closer to building a million square foot residential complex and Whole Foods Market in Tribeca by winning approval of a Community Board 1 committee last Thursday.

Under an agreement signed by Councilmember Alan Gerson and Dep. Mayor Dan Doctoroff in September, the community board has the rare power to veto the current proposal at Greenwich, Murray, Warren and West Sts., but Albert Capsouto, chairperson of C.B. 1’s Tribeca Committee, said there are so many positive components to the agreement, that the committee was not inclined to ask for more from Minskoff. The full board is expected to vote on the plan May 17.

The developer agreed to kick in an additional $1 million for a community recreation center being built across the street behind P.S.234. When Minskoff looked to make changes to the proposed buildings on the parking lot known as Site 5B, it obligated him to invest $2 million to help pay for the center and gave the C.B. 1 the power to veto the changes.

“Ed Minskoff has met his obligations to the community,” Madelyn Wils, former C.B. 1 chairperson who helped negotiate the agreement, said at last week’s meeting. “He’s changed this entire plan to meet the community’s plan. He’s done more than most developers would have done and I think he deserves to have this go through in a timely manner.”

Minskoff agreed to reduce the height of the buildings closer to their residential Tribeca neighbors and shifted height to the tallest tower on West and Warren Sts. from 370 to 382 feet. The Greenwich St. building has been reduced from 138 feet to 101 and the one on Murray St. from 200 feet to 139.

The lone voice of dissent at the meeting was board member Paul Sipos who said, “It’s going to be so overwhelmingly large it’s going to change the whole [complexion] of this part of the neighborhood.”

Beth Terrell, a Tribeca mother, said a community center for teens is essential particularly since they can no longer spend time in the World Trade Center shopping center. “For older teenagers we lost our mall,” she said. “We’ve got teenagers that have no place to go.”

The community center will be run by Manhattan Youth.

The project is expected to be approved by the City Planning Commission and City Council over the summer and construction is expected to begin in September.

The developer had hoped for approval earlier so pile driving could begin over the summer and not be too disruptive to P.S. 234 but they could not get it scheduled before City Planning, Wils said. Carlos Olivieri, Minskoff’s vice president of construction, said because the soil conditions are worse at Site 5B than the development site across the street, they will have to do drive 800 to 850 piles rather than implementing the less noisy methods being used across the street.

Minskoff has also agreed to pay $7.5 million into a Parks Dept. trust fund for Washington Market Park. A spokesperson for Minskoff said the developer will pay money into the park fund regardless of whether C.B. 1 approves the changes to the project.

The Doctoroff-Gerson letter also provides for the rec center and a public school annex next to P.S. 234, and it led to the agreement to build a K-8 school on Beekman St. Capsouto said given the addition of school and community space, park and rec center money, and the fact that Minskoff was not looking to increase the overall size of the project, it is a good deal for the neighborhood.

The project includes 230 condos and 162 rental apartments. Of the rentals, half will below market rate, with 60 percent of the 81 apartments set aside for moderate income apartments and 40 percent for low income. Subsidies for this are likely to come from a $50-million fund the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation identified in 2003. Originally, 300 affordable units were to be built on the Minskoff site, but Doctoroff announced last September that some of the money will be used to preserve affordable apartments in Lower Manhattan and the city is expected to release a plan for this money in a few months.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. announced in April 2001 that they would sell the lot to Minskoff to build a 32-story office tower and over the years the project’s height and prospects have risen and fallen before settling on a 382 foot apartment building. After the committee vote, Ben McGrath, Minskoff’s chief financial officer, said it took a long time and a lot of negotiations but he was happy that the project was nearing the construction point.

“I’m relieved,” he said. “We’ve made extraordinary efforts with community leaders.”


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