BSA hears NYU mega-dorm challenge

From The Real Deal

By Gabby Warshawer

An architectural drawing shows the dorm rising next to the adjacent post office. Today the Board of Standards and Appeals heard a challenge filed against the Department of Building’s approval of an air rights transfer that will allow Hudson Companies and New York University to build the tallest building in the East Village. The proposed university dorm, which would rise 26 stories at 110 East 12th Street, would be allowed to rise 55 percent higher than local zoning allows because the air rights being transferred are from an adjacent post office, which is immune from local zoning.

The challenge heard by the BSA, therefore, calls into question why a private developer would be able to flout zoning regulations that would not be applicable to a federally owned post office. Public officials including City Councilmember Rosie Mendez testified at the hearing.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, testified that the city was clearly bending zoning rules by allowing the air rights transfer and also hindering future development possibilities for the post office.

“It is a fiction for DOB to claim that they have ‘transferred’ development rights from the post office to the dorm site. As a federal agency, the post office has unlimited development ability for its properties, which cannot be restricted by the city,” Berman testified. “Thus when the city authorizes a ‘transfer’ of development rights from the post office in a case like this, it is simply giving a private developer — in this case Hudson Companies and NYU — the ability to build larger than the zoning allows, while offering no commensurate decrease in development ability for the neighboring site, the post office.”

The BSA said it will issue a decision on the challenge by June 12.
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Posted Under: Greenwich Village, Tower

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