You know it's been a long City Council subcommittee hearing when all of its members (except the chair) have abandoned their seats by the third hour. In advance of a council-wide vote in March, part of the Land Use Committee this morning (or what was left of it, after many jumped ship to what was presumably a more important press conference nearby) heard more than 50 testimonials for and against the proposed Hudson Square rezoning project. In short, the plan put forth by Trinity Real Estate?which the City Planning Commission approved last month?would transform the primarily industrial area, west of Soho and south of the South Village, into a mixed-use neighborhood that (ideally) doesn't become a ghost town after 7 p.m.
In the pro camp, Trinity's team, other area property owners, the Real Estate Board of New York, the Regional Plan Association, local labor union SEIU 32BJ, and others?including a children's museum and neighborhood business owner-slash-chocolatier Jacques Torres?all stressed "contextual development," the creation of affordable housing, the inclusion of open or recreational space and the exclusion of big-box stores, nightclubs and soulless large hotels. At the same time, many speakers expressed concern that there won't be enough affordable housing, open or recreational space (ah, these issues again) for the estimated influx of 7,000 new neighborhood residents. Community Board 2 is pushing for a dedicated rec center, while Assemblymember Deborah Glick's testimony included a statement about the "intense traffic" brought about by the, ahem, scenic entrance to the Holland Tunnel. Height limits are a lose-lose issue: neighbors insist on capping them so as not to sacrifice the character of the place, while developers and others swear they need to be able to build higher in order to fit in affordable housing among the (profitable) market-rate units.
These backs-and-forths are complicated by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation's ongoing quest to earn the South Village landmark status. Accordingly, it advocates not going ahead with the Hudson Square project until the South Village is officially protected, lest the former's redevelopment encroach and threaten the latter, adjacent area's existence. Many hearing attendees silently held up stark black-and-white posters in the name of their cause. The relationship isn't easily grasped by all. "Hudson Square is considered the South Village?" cracked Land Use Committee chair Leroy Comrie. "I'm a Queens guy!"
· City Planning Commission Approves Hudson Square Rezoning [Curbed]
· Hudson Square Rezoning coverage [Curbed]