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Building Heights Reduced in Revised Hudson Square Rezoning Plan

By Andrea Swalec | November 28, 2012 2:49pm | Updated on November 28, 2012 3:19pm

DOWNTOWN — Following community pressure, the developer seeking city approval to create up to 3,200 new apartments in the former industrial zone north of the Holland Tunnel unveiled plans Wednesday lowering maximum building heights in its proposed rezoning of Hudson Square. 

Trinity Real Estate representatives said at a City Planning Commission hearing Wednesday that the company would cut the maximum requested height of buildings on avenues in the area from 320 feet to 290 feet.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer requested these changes Tuesday in a conditional approval of the rezoning request. 

"We are amenable to Borough President Stringer's request that the avenue block heights be reduced," Trinity consultant Carl Weisbrod said. 

In an official recommendation to the commission on Oct. 18, Community Board 2 described support for Trinity's goal to create a "diverse and vibrant mixed-use community," but asked for even lower building heights, with a maximum of 250 feet on avenues.

Trinity — which wants the city to rezone the 18-block area roughly bounded by West Houston Street, Sixth Avenue, Canal Street and Greenwich Street — also announced changes to its plan, eliminating an unpopular, previously proposed subdistrict with a dramatically lower maximum building height. 

Previous designs would have limited buildings in the area in question — roughly bound by Dominick Street to the north, Varick Street and Sixth Avenue to the east, Watts Street to the south, and the entrance to the Holland Tunnel to the west — to just 120 feet. But residents said that would unfairly cut into their property values by limiting their ability to build above properties or to sell air rights.

"There really is no reason for Subdistrict B," Weisbrod said. 

But opponents of the rezoning said they want additional concessions from Trinity to further reduce building heights, create additional open space, and protect the quality of life of current residents of the area and adjacent neighborhoods. 

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who represents the area, asked Trinity and other developers to make annual payments to the cash-strapped Hudson River Park, which runs along the western edge of the neighborhood. 

"This is the main park that people [in Hudson Square] will be using," she said. "The park should receive some benefit from the development." 

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, asked the city to couple approval for the rezoning with consideration of a request to landmark the area bordered by West Fourth Street, LaGuardia Place, Watts Street and Sixth Avenue. 

"The increased development activity catalyzed by the rezoning will no doubt increase pressure upon the adjacent proposed South Village Historic District, accelerating its already rapid destruction," he said in a statement.

Connie Masullo, 85, a third-generation Village resident, said she wants the city to weigh the benefits of new residential and commercial development against the potential that growth will push out existing small businesses. 

"I would like to see the cultural amenities and little mom-and-pop stores here last," she said.