Friday, February 08, 2008

Slouching toward Chinatown

Political will and influence wanted an East Village rezoning to eliminate the community facility bonus. As it turned out, in the three years since the rezoning was proposed no tall towers have been built in the residential East Village -- even huge lots like Mary Help of Christians remain untouched -- and the proposed rezoning actually upzones the sidestreets by 14%.

The Community Board took best advantage of that political will to get something truly and desperately needed from it, a contextual down-zoning of the disappearing LES south of Houston, where out-of-context, out-of-scale hotels rise everywhere, just as they do in the commercially zoned 3rd Avenue / east Bowery.

The CB is currently planning a rezoning of the Bowery. If the Bowery and the LES are both rezoned to limit development, Chinatown will be placed at even greater risk as the last frontier for development and gentrification. Currently Chinatown is a C6-1 zone -- the same zoning as 3rd Avenue, Bowery and Chrystie-to-Essex that are seeing hotels rise daily.

That's the future for Chinatown unless the CB acts now.

It's time to think ahead. Chinatown needs zoning protection. The Bowery and Chinatown need to be rezoned as a single package so that the rezoning of the Bowery does not push development into Chinatown.

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