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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

44 Union Square East application to amend BSA condition for retail tenant deliveries and sanitation pickup in commercial zone.

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, September 8, 2022, the following resolution passed with a vote of 37 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, On March 22, 2016, the BSA (Board of Standards and Appeals) approved a variance to facilitate adaptive reuse of 44 Union Square East, also known as Tammany Hall; and 

WHEREAS, 44 Union Square East inhabits a total of 11,975 square feet with 79 square feet of frontage along Union Square and 150 feet of frontage along East 17th street; and

WHEREAS, The building sits within three zoning districts: partially within a C6-4 (general commercial) zoning district, partially within an R8B zoning district (high density residential zoning) and partially within the Special Union Square District (which mandates ground floor retail uses, off street relocation of subway stairs and continuation of street walls); and 

WHEREAS, The commercial zoning district extends from the corner of 17th street and Union Square 100 feet east along 17th street; and

WHEREAS, The remaining 50 square feet of frontage further east along 17th street falls within the residential zone; and 

WHEREAS, The building was granted a variance in 2016 that permitted commercial use within the R8B portion of the lot and also waived the minimum street wall height and requirement that the building’s main entrance be located on Union Square East; and

WHEREAS, The variance also provided for the restoration and enlargement of the building; and

WHEREAS, The building was permitted to change the use of the 2nd floor retail to office use via a letter of substantial complaint in 2019 and then to return the 2nd floor use to retail in 2021; and

WHEREAS, The building’s retail spaces currently occupy the 1st, 2nd and cellar floors, albeit the building has no tenants as of yet; and

WHEREAS, The building’s service corridor is located on East 17th street at the eastern edge of the building which falls within the residential district; and 

WHEREAS, The variance provided that all of the building’s deliveries and trash must go through the service corridor on East 17th street; and 

WHEREAS, There is no direct entrance from this service corridor to the retail areas; and 

WHEREAS, This requires that the retail tenant take deliveries through the East 17th service corridor, transport the goods through a corridor and into another elevator to bring the goods to the retail areas; and

WHEREAS, Permitting the deliveries and trash to be made through the retail entrance on Union Square will bring operational benefits to the retail tenants; and 

WHEREAS, Traffic will not be any more impacted by deliveries on Union Square than on 17th street and may be less impacted by deliveries on Union Square as there is a 3-hour loading /unloading space directly in front of Union Square with an additional two traffic lanes; and

WHEREAS, Trash is deposited once per day one hour before designated pick up; and

WHEREAS, The sidewalk on Union Square is wider than that of East 17th Street; and 

WHEREAS, The additional elevator that may be installed was provided as part of the original variance and was inadvertently removed from the plans; and

WHEREAS, Any additional elevator will not impact the building’s landmark status nor impact external neighbors or the public; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of a BSA variance amendment to permit deliveries and trash removal for the 44 Union Square East’s retail tenants to be permitted in the commercial zoning district (C6-4) and not within residential zoning as is currently required by BSA condition and also to restore a note relating to elevators on the cellar floor plan.

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