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Stabilized & Affordable Units Are
Not Required in
The End of
Three Parks Independent Democrats and West Siders For Responsible Development waged a two year campaign that won zoning limits on the avenues and side streets of our community thereby blocking construction of more forty story towers. The Mayor has now slammed neighborhoods here and around the city with his new rezoning plan. In the name of building "affordable" housing, de Blasio intends to rezone the entire city with a one-size-fits-all blueprint that does not allow distinctions by neighborhood. The problem is that except for six specific neighbor- hoods, the one in Manhattan being East Harlem, there is no requirement that any affordable housing be built when a developer takes advantage of increased height opportunities to construct luxury apartments.
Luxury Condos Encouraged
The most troubling aspect of the plan is that even a small boost in zoning height makes it profitable to take down or gut rehab existing low-rise rent stabilized and affordable units. While we will not yet see a return to Extell Towers heights, there will be increases in the two- to four-story range above the maximums now allowed, and a few additional stories will be added if 20 percent are below market rate "inclusionary" apartments.
Brewer Takes the Lead
A statement just released by our Borough President Gale Brewer, and signed by 27 Manhattan elected officials says, "While the proposed zoning text will make it easier to create new apartments in contextual districts, there is a real concern this will create development pressure on existing buildings. In order to build those new, market-rate units, rent stabilized tenants may have to be displaced, resulting in a net loss of affordable units."
A net loss of affordable units! How can that be the result of an affordable housing plan? First, the City has made no projections of a net gain in affordable housing. They are relying on the hope that something will come from giving developers the ability to make even greater profits. Second, there is no protection in the plan for existing rent stabilized and affordable units. The plan does provide a small sum to help tenants fight eviction, indicating that the Mayor is aware that there will be evictions, but there is no rule that affordable units cannot be demolished, or that they must be replaced by comparable new units with the original tenants invited back at the same rent.
Only a year ago, two empty brownstones on West 83rd Street were purchased by a developer and plans filed to demolish them and put up one new condo building with six very large floor-through apartments. If the new zoning is passed, that developer will get an approximate bonus of two more floors plus extending the first floor into the back yard. The block has the same zoning designation "R8B" as do the side streets in our area.
West 104th Street
Another example of what can happen is the row of three brownstones on West 104th Street. These buildings have a total of about 24 units, most of them stabilized. They are two stories below the current zoning limit. Add the two more stories from the new zoning plan for a total of four, and there is incentive to take them down. With air rights purchased from brownstones across the street or directly in back, these currently four-story building could go to nine or ten stories with no affordable housing. What's more, they would get a generous 421-a tax break.
Keep the Pressure On
Thanks to Gale Brewer, our local elected officials are alerted to the problem, as is Community Board 7, but we must keep pressure on everyone to have this plan stopped. As District Leader Cynthia Doty said at a recent Board 7 committee meeting, "The way to get affordable housing is to build it, not to bribe developers with tax breaks and permissive zoning that undermines protection that communities like ours fought to hard to win."
Volunteer to work with Three Parks to stop the rezoning. Send contact ud your information
E-Mail the Mayor
E-Mail Council Member Mark Levine
E-Mail Council Member Helen Rosenthal
The Borough President's memo to the NYC Planning Commission signed by 27 Manhattan elected officials.
Letter from Landmark West to the NYC Planning Commission explaining the problems with the Mayor's plan and its impact on our community
Article from The Villager, "The Mayor's Rezoning Would Undo Years of Progress" by Andrew Berman, Director of the The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Link to the City Planning Commission page with links to documents. The "Draft Scope of Work," is the most complete description of the plan issued so fa--166 pages.