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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

A Proposal by the Department of City Planning for an amendment to the Zoning Text to create a new Zoning District: M1-6D

WHEREAS, There are areas in New York City, including within Community Board Five, that were once important centers for manufacturing and light industry but due to changes in technology, economics, and demographic conditions, as well as zoning restrictions, have evolved into commercial areas for small and creative businesses while at the same time suffer from receiving little or no new investment, despite their desirable locations; and

WHEREAS, The Department of City Planning (DCP) is proposing to create a new M1-6D zoning district intended to preserve these existing concentrations of Class B and C office and light industrial spaces while also encouraging new investment by allowing residential and mixed-use development on currently under-built sites; and

WHEREAS, The first M1-6D district is proposed to be mapped with a private rezoning application for an area south of Penn Station, on the midblock portions of two blocks bounded by West 28th Street, Eighth Avenue, West 30th Street, and Seventh Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The proposed M1-6D zoning district would require that zoning lots that contain buildings with at least 50,000 square feet of non-residential use maintain the amount of commercial or light manufacturing space that existed on the zoning lot at the time of the referral of this application (April 25, 2011), whether by keeping an existing building in place or in new construction; and

WHEREAS, Residential use would be permitted as-of-right on zoning lots with less than 50,000 square feet of existing floor area, encouraging the development of parking lots and underutilized sites; and

WHEREAS, The proposed M1-6D district would allow a maximum FAR of 10 for community facilities, commercial and light manufacturing uses, and a maximum FAR for residential of 9.0 with an additional 3.0 FAR in exchange for the provision of 20% of the building's floor area as affordable housing as a part of the City's expanded Inclusionary Housing Program, the first such provision in CB5; for buildings with a mixture of residential and commercial/manufacturing floor area the maximum base FAR for a building with residential use would be 9.0 with an additional 0.25 FAR for each 1.0 FAR of non-residential floor area in the building, up to a maximum base FAR of 10.0; and

WHEREAS, The M1-6D zoning district will have height and setback regulations that recognize, and are contextual to, the large pre-war buildings that are typical in the areas that may be suitable for rezoning, including a maximum building height of 210 feet; to help guarantee a vibrant streetscape, a new development with 50 feet or more street frontage will be required to have 50% street front retail use, and for all permitted ground floor uses, transparent material must be used for at least 50% of the surface area; and 

WHEREAS, Despite the fact that certain neighborhoods could be well suited for hotel development, in order to encourage mixed-use in M1-6D zoning districts, until the residential goal for an area has been met, in this case, 865 residential units, hotels with more than 100 rooms would require a Special Permit, with hotels with fewer than 100 rooms allowed as-of-right; and

WHEREAS, Consistent with the limitation on hotel development, because the new M1-6D zoning district would permit the full-range of community facility uses, Community Board Five recommends that the Department of City Planning likewise monitor and evaluate how such uses could potentially interfere with the zoning change's stated goal of achieving mixed-use and diversity while protecting Class B and C office space, and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five strongly urges the Department of City Planning to lower the new M1-6D zoning lot minimums to 40,000 from 50,000 square feet to further protect existing commercial and light industrial uses and the businesses and jobs therein, because a notable portion of the existing buildings in areas suitable for M1-6D zoning are older and smaller and thus vulnerable to demolition; in the case of the first proposed M1-6D district, we endorse how the 50,000 square foot target would protect a concentrated portion of the area's commercial and industry use, saving 80% of the existing space, we ask that DCP reconsider the target by reducing it to 40,000 square feet, thereby protecting two additional buildings, comprising 27% of the remaining 20%; and  

WHEREAS, Because the creation of M1-6D districts will as much encourage residential development as it will protect commercial and light industrial space, it is inevitable that new M1-6D districts will create demand for, and add to, Manhattan's already overcrowded public schools; as such, Community Board Five strongly urges that the new criteria for schools analysis in the CEQR technical manual be carefully monitored in order to ensure that development does not further exacerbate the existing school overcrowding, and as each future M1-6D district is mapped the Department of City Planning  partner with the appropriate City agencies in particular the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education to address City service demands before residential units are added, not after; and

WHEREAS, In addition to school capacity, other City services will experience significant increases in demand and consumption from new residential development including vehicular traffic and sanitation, and as such, Community Board Five recommends that all new M1-6D residential buildings include off-street solutions for trash pick-up and loading; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five does not believe the M1-6D district would be suitable to every area that has manufacturing and commercial use, including the Garment Center where substantial review is already underway to explore potential solutions and where residential use is not appropriate; however, Community Board Five believes that other manufacturing districts within CB5 might benefit from similar reevaluation once the efficacy of the M1-6D district has been evaluated; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five acknowledges and is appreciative of how the Department of City Planning is attempting to address concerns we have had for many years pertaining to our District's loss of Class B and C office space and we further state our wish to work with the Department to investigate other neighborhoods and blocks within our Midtown district where an M1-6D zoning district can be an effective protection against the loss or threat of loss of Class B and Class C office space, while encouraging the development of residential units, including the opportunity for affordable housing, including but not limited to the neighborhood between W. 34th and W. 23rd Streets along Broadway, and we look forward to the opportunity to work with Department; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five approves the proposal by the Department of City Planning to create a new zoning district: M1-6D.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 36 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining.

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