Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hudson Square Redevelopment Clears Hurdle

The City Planning Commission has certified the rezoning proposal of Hudson Square, setting in motion a development plan that seeks to bring residential high-rises and retail to a swath of commercial Manhattan by the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, transforming the 300-year-old neighborhood into a mixed-use residential neighborhood.

The 300-year-old neighborhood, squeezed between the Hudson River and Sixth Avenue and Houston and Canal streets, is known for its proximity to the nearby Holland Tunnel as well as its association with Trinity Church to the south, which controls the land.

It is currently zoned for manufacturing and neighbors are seeking to block big-box stores from getting a toe hold. Trinity Real Estate and the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district, have promoted the rezoning effort on their websites, saying that mixed-use plan would allow a limited number of residential units and a public elementary school to be built.

Developers hope these features will round out the neighborhood and attract a variety of retail stores.

The board recently rejected both New York University's expansion and the redevelopment of the former St. Vincent's Hospital into residential condominiums. The votes were non-binding, but spurred changes. NYU, for example, shrank its development plans. The City Council later approved both plans.

Rezoning would attract a variety of residential and commercial amenities, though critics express that some of the plans' building sizes might be "excessive."

The Hudson Square plan would limit residential development in order to protect much of the existing commercial real estate. In terms of making the neighborhood attractive to residents, the greatest challenge will be the lack of parks—something that Hudson Square is trying to address.

Certification means the beginning of a seven-month-long public review of the private development, culminating with a City Council vote. City planner, Arthur Huh, said he did not see "any major roadblocks" for the plan's approval.

Community Board 2 will vote on the plan Oct. 18. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer must also review the plan before the council votes on it. A city planning spokeswoman said the Commission would take into consideration the Community Board and borough president’s comments as well as public testimony before voting on the proposal.