HUDSON SQUARE — The controversial St. John's Terminal development at 550 Washington St. won approval from the city's Planning Commission on Monday.
The multi-building mixed-use development would include more than 450 units of affordable housing, part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's goal of building and preserving a total of 200,000 affordable units in the 10 years following his 2014 inauguration.
"Rarely do we see applications with the potential to achieve so many public goals that are meaningful to such a very large range of stakeholders," Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod said before voting, according to a report sent out to POLITICO New York subscribers.
The plan is now with the City Council, where changes to it are expected.
As DNAinfo New York previously reported, Weisbrod has been involved in the planning of the project since the earliest days of the de Blasio administration, even before Weisbrod was appointed chair of the commission.
In a letter obtained by DNAinfo New York two weeks ago, the developers behind the project made some changes to their plan, apparently in response to feedback from the commission, including eliminating a promised above-ground public park and dropping a back-up plan that included big-box retail.
The local community board and preservation group Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was disappointed with the changes, however, with Community Board 2 chair Tobi Bergman calling the commission's punting of additional changes to the city council as "a cop-out."
GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman released a statement immediately after the vote chiding the commission for ignoring requests from his group and the community board to prohibit future air rights transfers from the Hudson River Park to anywhere within CB 2, give landmark designation for 10 blocks of the surrounding neighborhood, eliminate all destination retail from the St. John’s plan and limit the size of all retail establishments.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising that the Mayor and the City Planning Commission were willing to give these incredibly valuable approvals to this developer while demanding so little in return for the public," Berman said.
The developers, for their part, thanked the commission "for its overwhelming support."
"We’re particularly grateful to the more than 30 local families, leagues, business, labor and community groups who came out to the Commission’s hearing to testify in favor of our project," the developers said in a statement.
"We look forward to the City Council’s consideration and to continuing the constructive, collaborative process we’ve had with the community, elected officials and the City since initiation of this project.”
In order to build their nearly 2-million-square-foot project, the developers are purchasing 200,000 square feet of air rights from Hudson River Park's Pier 40 just across the West Side Highway.
The air rights transfer means an infusion of $100 million to the Hudson River Park Trust to make badly needed repairs to the widely-used Pier 40, where supporting pilings have been crumbling for years.
"Pier 40 is a treasured resource for the community and a critical revenue generator for all of Hudson River Park, and this project will enable us to make the urgently needed repairs to keep it open," Trust CEO and President Madelyn Wils said in a statement.
"We're pleased to have the City Planning Commission's support as the review process moves forward."