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BY SAM SPOKONY | Last month, saw the first proposal for affordable housing within the new Hudson Square Special District, when Extell brought its plans for 68 Charlton St. to Community Board 2. The developer has applied for an inclusionary housing bonus — offered within Hudson Square as part of its rezoning last year — which will allow them to build higher than zoning regs typically allow as of right, in exchange for including those affordable units (in Extell’s case, 25 of them) along with luxury units.
Now it looks like another big developer, Related Companies, is taking advantage of the same kind of bonus — but they’re proposing to do it through a site that lies just outside the special district. The site is 261 Hudson St. (by the corner of Dominick St.), where Related demolished a one-story building last year to make way for a future 12-story residential building.
Although no construction has yet begun, that building is currently planned to include a total of 201 apartments — 160 market rate and 41 affordable — according to a spokesperson for the developer. Along with getting a 421a tax break, since the building would be 20 percent affordable, Related has also submitted an inclusionary housing application to the city in order to get a big floor area bonus, according to a spokesperson for the Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development, the city agency which handles the inclusionary program.
Since the site lies outside the rezoned Hudson Square district — in fact, it’s just across the street from the boundary line, in a separate zoning district that doesn’t allow inclusionary housing — that bonus can’t be used at 261 Hudson St. Instead, Related would be able to transfer or sell the bonus to a nearby site, most likely within Hudson Square. That bonus would be equivalent to the total square footage of the 41 affordable units at 261 Hudson St., and while it’s not yet clear exactly how big those units will be, it’ll be tens of thousands of square feet that could eventually be tacked onto some mega luxury development nearby, or perhaps split up among multiple sites.
Related presented its plans for 261 Hudson St. to C.B. 2’s Land Use Committee on March 12, but no vote was taken because, as committee chairperson Tobi Bergman said afterwards, there were some “unresolved discussions” that will have to be continued at the committee’s meeting next month.
Since then, the developer has not responded questions about their plans for using the bonus, if it’s approved by the city. In any case, that possibility of a sizable floor area bonus to be transferred or sold within Hudson Square is certainly something worth keeping an eye on, especially as the new district continues to draw attention from big developers in the coming years.
“Related are the masters of working the system,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has opposed many Downtown development projects. “They definitely know how to work the system to get to the maximum advantage.”
Meanwhile, Related made a big purchase two weeks ago just south of Hudson Square, in Tribeca. The developer bought six parcels — 264-270 West St. and 33-35 Desbrosses St. — from their longtime owner, Ponte Equities, for a total of $115.3 million, according to city records.
Real estate publications have reported that those buildings, which lie just a few blocks below Canal St., have at least 171,000 square feet of development rights, although “insiders” cited in The Real Deal said the true air rights could be greater than that. Related has not yet filed any new demolition or construction plans with the city for those lots, but new development there could be coming soon.