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St. John's Terminal Developers Outline Changes to Proposal

By Danielle Tcholakian | October 8, 2016 12:48pm | Updated on October 10, 2016 8:49am
 The developers will no longer build an elevated park as part of the project at 550 Washington St., according to a letter submitted to the City Planning Commission.
The developers will no longer build an elevated park as part of the project at 550 Washington St., according to a letter submitted to the City Planning Commission.
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COOKFOX

HUDSON SQUARE — The developers behind the St. John's Terminal project across from Pier 40 outlined changes to their proposal in a Sept. 30 letter to the City Planning Commission.

The changes include promises about retail space included in the multi-building, mixed-use project, and the removal of a proposed elevated park, among other things.

The "design modifications" are based on feedback from the commission, lawyers for the developers wrote in the letter.

The developers promised to no longer pursue the "big-box retail alternative" that was previously discussed, and to include a minimum of four retail establishments at the ground-floor level on the north and south sides of West Houston Street, and three retail stores on the ground floor on Clarkson Street.

The developers had planned to turn a portion of the long-defunct elevated rail over West Houston Street into a public park, but have now nixed that idea due to concerns raised by the commission, the local Community Board and the Manhattan Borough President about "its impact on the pedestrian experience on the sidewalks below," according to the letter.

The developers will now remove the rail beds entirely and put open space at ground level, including adding seating and plantings at a through-block passageway amid the project's five buildings.

They are also now promising an approximately 10,000-square-foot indoor recreation space either at or below the ground floor of the center of the project.

According to the letter, the space will be outfitted to be used for "various ball sports, martial arts or fitness classes" and include bathrooms and storage.

It will be available to the public for 50 percent of its operating hours, and the rest of the time will be used by the residents of its building. A third party will manage the space and advertise its availability for community use, according to the letter.

The developer may charge fees to use the space "to cover overhead and maintenance."

The lawyers included draft plans showing how the space would fit either at or below ground level.

 

Draft Floor Plans for Indoor Activity Space by DNAinfoNewYork on Scribd

 

They are also discussing "appropriate" limitations to the below-ground retail with Department of City Planning staff and working to "identify additional open space" at ground level, the lawyers wrote.

Here is the full letter:

 

Letter From St. John's Terminal Developers' Lawyers to City Planning Commission by DNAinfoNewYork on Scribd

 

The local community board's working group on the project reviewed the letter at a public meeting last week and took issue with several of the changes.

Community Board 2 member Bo Riccobono noted that the Planning Commission did not force the developers to make changes to the parking spaces included in their project, even though commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod raised that issue himself.

"He said that would be pushed back to the Council," board chair Tobi Bergman replied, referring to the fact that the proposal is now before the City Council, where more changes are expected. "It was kind of a cop-out."

Bergman said the indoor recreational space was "a disappointing one" for him.

"You're still always going to feel like you're in a condo amenity space where you don't belong," he said.

CB 2 will push for the space to take up both floors, rather than one or the other, and demand details on the ceiling height and column spacing in order to ascertain whether it will truly be a suitable space for ball sports, while also raising other issues in the hopes City Councilman Corey Johnson can secure additional changes.