Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The EV is being upzoned far more than anticipated

According to the Department of City Planning, the proposed EV/LES rezoning is expected to bring 53% more development in the next ten years than current zoning would bring over the same ten years.

That's only expected development. Add potential development and the rezoning will allow an incredible 124% more development than current zoning would allow over the next ten years.

It is hard to believe that this rezoning has been advertised and sold to our community as a "downzoning."

Current FAR in the EV is so low that few air rights are available to build with -- that's why nothing out-of-scale has been built in the EV in the last five years, while huge developments surround us in the commercial zones from 3rd Avenue down the Bowery and south of Houston. The low FAR is a cap on development. The much-touted height caps of the rezoning simply eliminate the transfer of air rights from one site to another. They don't limit development any better than the current FAR caps do. They simply redistribute the development.

The height caps of the rezoning will actually encourage owners of small buildings to build to the new maximum. Under the rezoning they can't sell their air rights, so the only way to add profit is by building to the max. The maximum, under this rezoning, has been increased from 3.44 to 4.0. Expect rooftop additions, demolitions and redevelopment, gut renovations with additions and the accompanying wholesale evictions.

The only downzoning for the EV in this plan is the elimination of the community facility bonus and the FAR reduction of a small area south of Tompkins Square Park.

DCP's numbers tell the true story: we're being upzoned for development. DCP looked at all the available buildable space under current zoning and under the rezoning and found:

53% more expected development and 124% more possible development under the rezoning than under current zoning.

And, btw, less than 10% of the expected total development will be affordable housing. Most of that won't be low-income.

DCP did not study the availability of current air rights. If air rights have mostly been consumed south of Houston, then there is little benefit to this rezoning. It seems to me that no decision can responsibly be made about the value of this rezoning until the availability of current air rights has been assessed.

Here are the actual figures from DCP's DEIS:

4,530,389 sq ft of commercial and residential development expected under the rezoning plan.
2,944,512 sq ft of commercial and residential development expected under current zoning.

Less than 450,000 sq ft of that development will be affordable housing, using DCP's sq ft/housing unit averages.

Source:Notice of Completion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, pp. S-7,S-8, table S-1 and pp. S-39, S-40, table S-6.
It is available in pdf here:

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