Monthly Archives: May 2019

Opportunity for Community Benefit from Gansevoort Development: CB2 Hearing May 8

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Dear friends,

Aurora Capital is now asking for office uses in their new Gansevoort Development. We believe that highly-profitable office use  should only be allowed  if the community receives substantial benefits in return.

On May 8th, Community Board 2 will hold a hearing on the restrictive declaration that currently prohibits office use on the site of this development—the entire south side of Gansevoort Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets.

Please come to this important meeting!

Wednesday, May 8, 6:30 PM
Meyer Hall / NYU Center for Neural Sciences, 4 Washington Place (between Mercer and Broadway), Rm. 102

The original reason for prohibiting office use was to protect the existing one- and two-story buildings on this site by removing the economic incentive to build higher. (In 2003, when the declaration was passed, offices were the only use that could have been profitable for floors above the second story.)

Unfortunately, the restrictive declaration has failed in this purpose. Following the Landmark Preservation Commission’s misguided approval of Aurora’s plans, Aurora has now completed structural construction of the large building at 70-74 Gansevoort Street and construction is underway at 60-68 Gansevoort.

Although Aurora was able to obtain financing for these buildings and claims that they can find non-office uses that would enable them to make a profit, they would strongly prefer to have office use. Save Gansevoort has been negotiating with Aurora Capital in an effort to identify other community benefits that could be obtained in exchange for allowing office use. The Community Board needs to hear that any changes to the restrictive declaration must include the following elements:

1.  A substantial percentage of any newly-created office space must be reserved for use by local non-profit organizations that would bring vibrancy and diversity to our community.  The amount of space for non-profit use remains subject to negotiation, and we would like to obtain the maximum amount possible.  It would be helpful if people gave some thought to the kinds of uses they would like to see.  Suggestions so far have included theater and/or dance rehearsal space, space for community organizations, non-profit galleries, space for educational organizations that work with children, etc.

2.  There must be a legally binding agreement that there will be no further development on this block.  Because the eastern half  of the block remains low-rise, around 40,000 square feet of development rights still remain unused. Any amendment to the restrictive declaration must contain language prohibiting the use of these unused development  rights.

3. There must be quality of life protections for the community:

First, the new development includes large exterior roof spaces.  The existing restrictive declaration prohibits use of these rooftops by “eating and drinking establishments.”  However, it’s possible that potentially loud uses such as private office parties or fashion shows might currently be allowable.  Any amendment to the restrictive declaration must contain language prohibiting music on the exterior roofs at any time, mandating reasonable closing hours for the rooftop areas, and mandating subdued lighting for the rooftop areas.

Second, we would like to see a prohibition on any liquor licenses on the block other than the license that has already been issued to Pastis. Aurora apparently wants to keep the option of allowing full liquor licenses for restaurants that are located above the ground floor. Aurora has also indicated that they anticipate leasing space to some retail tenants who might want to operate cafes serving alcohol. We countered that additional beer and wine licenses (NOT full liquor licenses) associated with retail use might be acceptable if closing hours were limited to no later than 8pm.

As always, the most effective way to express your opinion is to attend the hearing in person. However, if you are unable to attend you can send comments to: bgormley@cb.nyc.gov
Put “Attention Land Use Committee – Gansevoort restrictive declaration” in the subject line.

The facebook event is here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1436759336465739/

See you at the hearing!