City’s Final “Community Visioning” Report for 388 Hudson Project Stacks the Deck and Minimizes Public Input

(l.) The City’s “report”; (r.) the building the City wants constructed on the site. 

Last week the City issued its final “Community Visioning” report for the planned affordable housing development at 388 Hudson Street (at Clarkson Street) on City-owned land formerly earmarked for a park. The document is intended to guide proposals from private developers to build on the site. As expected, it reflected the deck-stacking that has characterized this process from the beginning, and minimized the overwhelming public input received about plans for the site. Read the “report” here.

Recap: In 2021, the City earmarked this publicly owned vacant site, previously set aside for future parkland, for the construction of 100 units of affordable housing. We and others embraced this possibility. Then in 2023, plans began to emerge for doubling, tripling, or increasing even more the size of the planned development on the site. Upon questioning, mechanisms for ensuring the development would be required to remain affordable in perpetuity didn’t exist, and the City’s preference was for a tall slender tower that would be Greenwich Village’s tallest ever, looming over both the adjacent JJ Walker Park and the Greenwich Village Historic District. VP and others called for a lower, squatter building that would maximize housing while minimizing height, would set back from JJ Walker Park to minimize shadows and visual impact, would match the height of the larger surrounding loft buildings (as opposed to rising to two to three times the height), and would require nothing less than permanent affordability. More than 1,500 New Yorkers wrote the City demanding similar measures as part of the “community visioning” process.

The City responded by initially refusing to even acknowledge these issues or the huge public outcry around them, including almost no mention of them in the initial draft “community visioning” document. After significant pushback from Village Preservation, the City added nominal mentions of the calls for the changes we described, but still dedicated by far the majority of the document to issues like the size of windows and the color of brick, failing to reflect what most of the engaged public said it wanted. The City STILL has not committed to any mechanism that would guarantee permanent affordability, nor has it made any concessions regarding the height, size, or configuration of the tower to relate to community context or protect JJ Walker Park. This document will now be sent to potential developers to guide the proposals they will submit for the site, which will require a public review and approval process.


April 15, 2024