Volume 16 • Issue 47 | April 16-22, 2004

Greene St. developments trouble some from Soho

Soho residents are battling a new project that they say would undermine the new zoning recently put in place for 16 vacant lots in Soho and Noho. The developer of the new project, at 92-94 Greene St./109 Mercer St., is seeking variances that would violate the new zoning in several ways, according to opponents. Representatives for the developer, Ed Pearlstein, made his case for a variance Tuesday at the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Jimmy Solomon, founder of Gang Greene, a new Soho residents group, said Pearlstein is seeking to exceed the floor-area-ratio of 5 established for the parking lots, and wants an F.A.R. of over 6. Solomon also said that while the new zoning requires a 30-ft. backyard, the developer is asking for a reduction to 20 ft., while the new building also would have balconies, further reducing the space between the new building and neighbors’ windows.

“This is the first case of 74712,” said Solomon, a TV writer, referring to the new zoning law. “On the very first case, they’re trying to exceed the F.A.R. and build 20-ft. rear yards. There are over 90 lot-line windows that would be affected. Here’s a classic case where a law is put in place and a developer is trying to circumvent the law.”

The developer is reportedly basing his request for a variance on economic hardship from being in a historic district, the Soho Cast-Iron Historic District. But Solomon noted that historic districts are known to raise property values.

Attorney Barry Mallin is representing the residents in their opposition to the variance.

In addition to an F.A.R. of 5 and 30-ft. back yards, 74712 also requires that no premises serving alcohol or bars be allowed on the first floors of new buildings on the parking lots, that there be an arts component to each new project and that the apartments be at least 1,200 sq. ft.

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