Monthly Archives: November 2019

Aurora Wants Office Use at Gansevoort Development, We Want More Non-Profit Space: CB2 Hearing Nov. 13

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Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee will hold a hearing this coming Wednesday on Aurora Capital’s application to allow highly profitable office use at their block-long Gansevoort development. Please come to the CB2 meeting and let Aurora know that we need more space for non-profit organizations in exchange!

Wednesday, November 13, 6:30 PM
NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 408
(near the north east corner of Washington Square Park)

During the past summer, Save Gansevoort (with the assistance of CB2) has worked hard to negotiate a satisfactory deal with Aurora Capital that would allow office uses at their new Gansevoort development in exchange for various protections and benefits for the community.

As a result, Aurora has agreed to prohibit all music and amplified sound on the rooftop and terrace exteriors of the block, has agreed that there will be no future increases in height of any of the buildings, and has agreed to allow no more than 3 full liquor licenses (none of which could be in spaces adjacent to the exterior roofs/terraces) and 4 wine and beer licenses (all of which would be ancillary to some other use such as retail or office space).

There is one major point on which we have not yet reached agreement. We originally asked that 20,000 sq/ft of space be made available at 50% of market-rate rent for non-profit educational, cultural, and/or community service tenants. Aurora first countered with an offer 4000 sq/ft of upper-floor space at 50% of market-rate rent, but then later moved backwards and offered 934 sq/ft of basement space rent free. We believe that Aurora’s current offer is inadequate and more space for non-profits needs to be made available.

It’s important that we have a good turn out of community people at this CB2 hearing, and that people speak out in favor of more non-profit space. The restrictions that Aurora is agreeing to regarding rooftop use are simply mitigations of impacts that Aurora themselves have created. The non-profit space represents the actual benefit that the broader community would receive in return for allowing Aurora office use at this location.

We believe that allowing office use will significantly increase the value of the Gansevoort block – consider how much more Aurora could make if they sold the property with this deal in place and office use allowed, as opposed to if they sold it encumbered with the existing restrictive declaration prohibiting office use. The amount of free or low-rent non-profit space should reflect a reasonable portion of that increased value.

Here is more detailed information about the proposed deal:

EXTERIOR ROOFTOPS

First, Aurora has agreed to prohibit music and amplified sound on the exterior rooftops at all times and with no exceptions.

Second, Aurora has agreed to a closing time of 8:00 PM Sunday through Wednesday on the rear terraces and a 10:00PM closing time Thursday through Saturday. They have also agree to a 10:00 PM closing time seven days per week for the large 5th floor roof on top of 60-68 Gansevoort.

Remember that use of the roofs by eating/drinking establishments will continue to be prohibited by the restrictive declaration, and that no liquor licenses would be allowed in any space adjacent to the rooftops (see below). Aurora is also committing to acoustical screening around all of the rooftops. Office parties and such might still be possible (and catered events might be able to provide alcohol using the caterer’s liquor license) but they would have to be finished – including clean-up – by 10pm and there could be no music.

We have spent months pushing Aurora on the rooftop issues, and we feel this is just about the best we can do.

FAR

Aurora has agreed that that there will be no increase in the height of the existing buildings on the Gansevoort block, except in case of casualty in which case the height of replacement structures may be up to 5 feet higher (subject to Landmarks Preservation Commission approval, of course). Development rights will not be transferred to 803-807 Washington Street (which is the only location they could currently be transferred to).

LIQUOR LICENSES

Aurora’s has agreed to a maximum of 3 full liquor licenses (ie, the existing license at Pastis plus two others). None of these full liquor licenses will used for a space immediately adjacent to any of the exterior roofs/terraces. There would also be a maximum of four beer and wine licenses, all of which would be ancillary to some other use (such as retail or office space). In other words, none of these 4 beer and wine licenses could be for stand-alone cafes or restaurants. We had originally hoped to permit fewer SLA licenses, but agreed to these numbers to help obtain the restrictions on rooftop use described above.

COMMUNITY NON-PROFIT SPACE

We originally asked that 20,000 sq/ft of space be made available at 50% of market-rate rent for non-profit educational, cultural, and/or community service tenants. Aurora first offered 4000 sq/ft of non-profit space in an upper floor at 50% of market-rate rent (or 2000 sq/ft rent-free). Aurora then back-tracked and is now offering a 934 sq/ft space in the basement of 60-74 Gansevoort rent-free.

We believe that Aurora’s current offer is inadequate and more space needs to be found. The restrictions that Aurora is agreeing to on rooftop use are simply mitigations of impacts that Aurora themselves have created. The non-profit space represents the actual benefit that the broader community would receive in return for allowing Aurora office use at this location.

We believe that allowing office use will significantly increase the value of the Gansevoort block – consider how much more Aurora could make if they sold the property with this deal in place and office use allowed, as opposed to if they sold it encumbered with the existing restrictive declaration prohibiting office use. The amount of free or low-rent non-profit space should reflect a reasonable portion of that increased value.

See you at the hearing!