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Hudson Square Rezoning Begins With Promises of Chocolate

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The required land use review process to rezone Hudson Square for residential development began last night in front of Community Board 2, where Trinity gave a proposal outlining its plan to transform the west Soho neighborhood. Trinity Church owns more than 40% of all the property in Hudson Square, and has taken it upon itself to do all the heavy lifting of coming up with a plan to extract some additional value from its holdings. The rezoning proposal allows residential development within the confines of Hudson Square (the area between West Houston and Canal Street west of Sixth Avenue and east of Greenwich Street), while imposing height limits on new construction in the area and a development formula meant to encourage a mixed-use 24/7 neighborhood. Neighbor and chocolatier Jacques Torres spoke during the public comment period and compared the proposed Hudson Square rezoning to what was successfully done in Dumbo, and promised free chocolate in the future for all visible supporters in the neighborhood.

In addition to height limits of 320' along wide streets and 185' on narrow streets, the first step Trinity has planned for Hudson Square after rezoning is the development of Duarte Square as a special subsection of rezoning that will allow the construction of a 430' tower and include a 444-seat pre-K to 5th grade public school in its base. While the overall mood during the public comment period was relatively subdued (in comparison to meetings concerning SPURA and NYU's Sexton Plan), many objected to the extent of the height and massing limits, saying that they should be reduced in exchange for residential rezoning.

The primary bone of contention, however, was the effect rezoning of Hudson Square will have on the un-landmarked South Village. Opponents of the plan said that the successful rezoning of Hudson Square will put undue economic pressure on the South Village that will lead to its total transformation unless the neighborhood is landmarked first. Commenters seemed amenable to the idea of rezoning Hudson Square as long as it was linked to landmarking of the South Village.

Others saw the rezoning process as an opportunity to assist the struggling Hudson River Park. The Trinity presentation given by Carl Weisbrod attempted to put the park at arm's length, saying that it would encourage efforts by the Dept. of Transportation to create a neighborhood link to the waterfront at Spring Street, but otherwise feigning that Hudson Square doesn't have much to do with the waterfront since it doesn't directly border it. One commenter suggested that Trinity should have to commit to some type of financial support for Hudson River Park, while others wanted to know more about Spring Street access.

All in all it was a moderate meeting—the first of many.
· Hudson Square coverage [Curbed]