Volume 18 • Issue 10 | July 29 - August 4, 2005

Canal St. residents hail vote on Arman project

By Lincoln Anderson

Opponents of a variance application for a new 10-story building by Arman the sculptor at 482 Greenwich St. in Hudson Square were disappointed that Community Board 2 at its July 21 full board meeting approved some aspects of the variance.

The full board approved the resolution passed by its Zoning and Housing Committee on July 14. That resolution recommended denial of the part of the variance application requesting an increase in bulk — noting there was “no justification” for such an increase — from a floor-to-area ratio of 6.02 to an F.A.R. of 7.98. (F.A.R. represents the amount of buildable space allowed relative to the size of the building’s footprint.)

Yet, opponents had hoped the full board would overturn the Zoning and Housing Committee’s approval of other parts of the variance application. However, in line with the committee — which found that the developer would face hardship because the corner lot at Greenwich and Canal Sts. is small and triangular — the full board voted to approve allowing the new project to cover 100 percent of the lot, rather than the 80 percent coverage allowed under Hudson Square’s recent rezoning. The board also voted to support including accessory parking and curb cuts for a garage in the building’s Greenwich St. side.

The resolution did not comment on the lack of setbacks on the project’s sheer walls, a major concern of residents. Yet, as David Reck, the Zoning and Housing Committee’s chairperson, has previously stated, if the F.A.R. is kept at the current level, then the street walls will not rise to a height where setbacks would legally be required under current zoning.

Critics and neighbors of the project spoke out against the variance during the meeting’s public session.

“So is this big box being approved, then?” Patrick McDonough, who owns a townhouse with a two-story penthouse addition at 482 Greenwich St., asked the board. “If this is a small, irregular lot, wouldn’t it make sense to build a small, irregular building?”

When the board voted later to approve the committee’s resolution, McDonough and Sol Rosenblatt, a resident of 481 Greenwich St., sat in stunned anger.

“Somebody isn’t hearing the community,” McDonough said.

“There are huge E.P.A. concerns — we’re the second-worst polluted place in the city,” Rosenblatt said. Rosenblatt feels if the new building covers the full lot and has sheer walls it will funnel particulate matter carcinogens from the heavy car traffic on Canal St. up Greenwich St.

McDonough, who has a south-facing balcony that would look into the side of the new building, is more concerned about being walled in.

“I don’t want a building in my face,” he said.

The variance application now goes to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which has the power to approve or reject the plan.


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