East Village residents are outraged over a developer’s attempt to build the site of the former Peter Stuyvesant Post Office four stories above what current zoning restrictions allow. The forthcoming 114-apartment residential and retail building at 432-438 East 14th Street was only intended to rise eight stories, but Benenson Capital Partners and Mack Real Estate Group say that unforeseen complications during the groundbreaking created costs that can only be recovered by adding four extra stories, reports DNAinfo.
More than 300 letters from community members have poured into the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, all of them pleading with the board to reject the request for a variance needed to allow for the project’s height increase. Among their biggest concerns is that by allowing developers to build beyond what’s allowed, it would set a precedence that other developers would then seek to follow for future projects within the East Village and would ultimately ruin the neighborhood’s character.
“We do not want this developer, who doesn’t even live here, who is looking for greater profits through changing the character of our neighborhood to undo the height restrictions and set a terrible precedent for other applications,” stated one resident.
Skeptics believe that developers should have found ways to alter the project so that it would work with zoning restrictions instead of moving forward and assuming that a variance would be granted. “[W]hy would anyone spend millions on building a cellar that can't support an as-of-right project? You just wouldn't do it," said the board’s president Margery Perlmutter. However, an attorney for the developer said that the project’s foundation needed to be in the ground to secure their 421-A tax break.
Developers will go before the board in March for its next hearing.