City hears objections
to Tribeca development

By Elizabeth O’Brien

The city heard the public’s concerns about the proposed Site 5C development on Chambers St. at a scoping session last week.

At the meeting, community members made suggestions for the environmental impact study mandated under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. The city follows this procedure whenever it considers building on land it owns.

Plans for the city’s 5C site, bounded by Chambers, Warren, and West Sts., have met with resistance from community members who feel the proposed residential development is too big for the neighborhood.

In response to community concerns, developer Scott Resnick recently trimmed one of the two proposed buildings from 408 ft. to 360 ft., according to Janel Patterson, a spokesperson for the city Economic Development Corporation. But many feel that the reduction was not enough. The other proposed building on the site is eight stories, and there will likely be more than 500 apartments on the site.

“Something has to be done,” Bernard D’Orazio, president of Save Our Space, a group opposed to large-scale development in the area, said in a telephone interview.

D’Orazio said he requested that the city conduct a wind study as part of its evaluation, as well as an archaeological study on the site, which lies on landfill just beyond the original Manhattan coastline. Other members asked the city to do a shadow study to make sure that the development would not block too much light in Washington Market Park and the surrounding area.

Attorneys for the developer attended the meeting but did not comment, D’Orazio said. Scott Resnick’s office did not return several calls for comment.

One of the main worries the community has voiced about the 5C development is its potential impact on neighboring P.S. 234. Concern centers on the noise and pollution that the construction will generate. In addition, many fear that the school, which is already over capacity, cannot absorb any more children from families who move into the development.

“A 35-story building next to a three-story school is frankly a little much,” Robin Forst, deputy chief of staff to City Councilmember Alan Gerson, said in a telephone interview. Forst also testified at last week’s meeting.

Community members say they are particularly upset about the size of the development because the original plans for the lot included a 135 ft. building. The previous project could not exceed that height under the 40-year –old Washington Street Urban Renewal Plan. That plan expired in 2002, requiring a new ULURP, said Patterson of the Economic Development Corporation.

Some community members also object to the development because of the large-scale plans for neighboring site 5B. Currently, the city has plans for a commercial building of about 600 ft. for 5B, across Warren St. from P.S. 234.

“5C needs to be viewed in the context of 5B,” Forst said.

The public comment period for the 5C development ends on July 10, Patterson said. After that, the agency has 30 days to produce the final scope of the Environmental Impact Study.

The ULURP process begins when city agencies sign off on the final scope, Patterson said, and is expected to take six to eight months.

Developer Scott Resnick has applied for $200 million in Liberty Bond financing, according to Tracy Paurowski of the New York City Housing Development Corporation. The bonds under this federal program must be issued by December 31, 2004, but construction on the project does not have to begin at that time, Paurowski said.


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