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Hudson Yards Rezoning Receives Final Approval by City Council

By Serena Solomon | December 22, 2009 7:52am | Updated on December 22, 2009 8:04am
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg survey the Western Rail Yard that will eventually be redeveloped.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg survey the Western Rail Yard that will eventually be redeveloped.
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William Alatriste for New York CIty Council

By Serena Solomon

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CITY HALL – A plan to create a new neighborhood of office towers, high-rise condos and parks on the far West Side over MTA rail yards got final approval on Monday by the City Council.

The Council voted 47 to 2 to approve rezoning 26 acres for the $15 billion Hudson Yards project being constructed by mega-developer Related Cos. They now have until Jan. 31 to finalize a $1 billion lease with the MTA for use of the space over its West Side Railyards.

Manhattanites, though, shouldn't expect to see the new neighborhood, planned for West 30th to West 33rd streets between Eleventh and Twelfth avenues, anytime soon. Jay Cross, Related's president for the project, said it would take at least 10 years to complete. Hudson Yards has already been hampered by delays and the recession.

"Despite the national economic downturn, we're not going to stop moving forward on major economic-development projects that create jobs and prepare the city for future growth," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference to herald the vote.

Cross said 12 months of engineering work is now needed before a platform can be constructed over the rail yards to make way for the new development.

But despite the mood of victory at a press conference held at the site on Tuesday, some residents and community groups who live nearby were still concerned that there wasn't enough affordable housing and that the city was actually constructing an exclusive neighborhood for the rich.

"My residential conscience is troubled by this. It does not benefit the community at all," said Anita Black a member of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance, a group that has campaigned to see 30 percent of the apartments in the development as permanent and affordable housing.

Related had originally agreed to make 20 percent of its rental units affordable for 20 years. But when that was factored in with all the planned condo and co-op units, the total affordable housing on the site was just 8 percent. The City Council has since gotten Related to agree to 20 percent affordable housing, and making most of it permanent.

"We have to come up with some sort of balance," said Bloomberg. "We need to make sure there is affordable housing, recreational space, a tax base. We need to make sure there are all types of housing, not just affordable housing."

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn agreed.

"This rezoning reflects years of conversations, outreach and input from community members," Quinn said. The project sits in her district.

Black insisted much of this affordable housing could still be stashed away in two off-site developments, not in Hudson Yards proper.

"Ordinary folks will not be able to afford to live in that community," she said. "It will not be inclusive of the residents of Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea."