Tuesday, October 03, 2023

2008 rezoning, still misunderstood

Fifteen years after implementation, the 2008 East Village-Lower East Side Rezoning is still misunderstood. Apparently, no one reads the actual texts of rezonings or maybe the relevant parties don't want to admit to what the Department of City Planning dealt them. 

Simply stated, the EV was upzoned, not downzoned. And a large swath of the LES was downzoned, except the wide streets (Houston, Delancey, Chrystie) which were upzoned. 

Big picture: EV upzoned, LES downzoned. 

Prior to the rezoning, the EV had a very restrictive zoning allowance. The only means of

expansion was the community facility bonus, which was used -- often illegally -- to build up to 6 FAR. It was the use of the bonus that drew the community into a rezoning. The fear was that the owner of P.S. 64 would use the community facility bonus to build a tall out-of-scale dormitory and then, claiming that there was no institutional tenant available, ask the Board of Standards and Appeals allow him to convert it to a market-rate residence.

DCP basically gave the community a deal: a neighborhood height cap to prevent the development of an out-of-scale P.S. 64 in exchange for a modest upzoning throughout the EV. The exception to the upzoning was exactly two blocks south of Tompkins Square Park, which were not upzoned for reasons that remain obscure. 

The LES, which was seeing a rapid spread of huge out-of-scale developments, was downzoned except for the major, wide streets: Houston, Delancey and Chrystie. By contrast, nothing had been built in the EV since 2001 because the zoning was already so restrictive.

In the end, the height cap has been effective in preventing tall buildings but also a loss of public space. Had the giant development between 11th & 12th streets on Avenue A been built as a skyscraper, the old tower-in-the-park zoning would have required a public space and the neighborhood might have kept its weekend flea market exactly where it had been for years, one of the most wonderful, social, happy spaces in the EV. 

DCP's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) anticipated that the rezoning would create over 53% more development than the previous zoning. I reported these figures several times on this blog. For example here




and here


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