East Village Rezoning Passes

Yesterday the City Council enacted into law a sweeping rezoning of the East Village. The new zoning will for the first time establish height limits for new development throughout the affected area, reduce the allowable bulk of new development in most of the area, cap air rights transfers, eliminate the current zoning bonus for dorms and hotels, and create incentives for the creation and retention of affordable housing (click here and here for details). This rezoning grew out of community efforts, and through the process the plan was improved to include stricter zoning limits in some areas of the neighborhood. GVSHP was one of many community groups working with Community Board 3 and local elected officials, especially Councilmember Rosie Mendez, to push for a much-needed rezoning of the East Village. The rezoning will prevent several development plans that had been in motion, such as the proposed 8-story condo-tower above the Russian Orthodox Cathedral at 59 East 2nd Street, a building which GVSHP is seeking to landmark.

One troubling shortcoming of the rezoning, however, was the exclusion of the 3rd and 4th Avenue corridors and the Bowery. GVSHP and others pushed very hard to get this area included, but the City stubbornly refused. GVSHP is working with community groups, the community board, and local elected officials, especially Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Borough President Scott Stringer, to advance a community-initiated rezoning plan for these blocks, which also desperately need it.

The historic research and landmarking proposals which the recently received Preserve NY grant allows GVSHP to undertake in the East Village follows logically upon the rezoning of the neighborhood. While zoning changes will help prevent inappropriate development, documentation and landmarking protections will ensure the long-overdue recognition and preservation of the East Village’s vast historic cultural and architectural resources.

November 20, 2008