Volume 16 • Issue 48 | APRIL 23-29, 2004

C.B.1 rejects Site 5C plan, negotiations continue

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Community Board 1 rejected the Bloomberg administration’s intended sale of the city lot on Chambers St. to a private developer who plans to construct a 35-story residential tower on the site.

The community board has long fought what it calls excess development of the site known as 5C on Chambers St., bounded by Chambers, Warren and West Sts. But it made its opposition official when it passed a resolution on April 20 as part of the city’s formal review of the development. Community boards make non-binding recommendations under ULURP, or the city’s uniform land use review procedure.

In the resolution, the community reiterated its demand that the building be reduced to 25 floors and that the public recreation space be increased from 18,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet. Residents remain concerned about the shadows that the proposed building would cast on nearby parks and elementary schools, and also about the congestion that the project would bring to the community.

“Community Board 1 supports reasonable development on Site 5C but strongly believes that any such development should be subject to appropriate restrictions…,” the resolution read.

The board added to the resolution an amendment, proposed by board member Rick Landman, which criticizes the city for failing to sell the site by public auction. A public proceeding would be a more appropriate way to dispose of the land, he argued, since the government originally obtained the lot about 40 years ago by confiscating private property through the right of eminent domain.

Janel Patterson, a spokesperson for the city Economic Development Corporation, did not return a call for comment on the city’s regulations for disposing of its land. She told Downtown Express several weeks ago she could not reveal the cost of the land since that matter was still under discussion.

The community continues to press its points in negotiations with the city and the developer, Scott Resnick.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to discuss in detail,” Madelyn Wils, chairperson of C.B. 1, said at the April 20 monthly meeting of the full board.
Wils said discussions would continue until the parties reach an agreement or until the ULURP. process expires, which will happen in approximately four months.

Scott Resnick and his associates attended the community board meeting on April 20, but none of them spoke. Immediately afterwards, Resnick’s attorney, Michael Sillerman, told Downtown Express, “We’re in discussions with community representatives and elected officials, and with the cooperation of the administration we’re hopeful of bringing those discussions to a mutually successful resolution.”

As part of the city’s land review, the City Council and the Department of City Planning will vote on the proposed 5C project, while Community Board 1 and the Manhattan Borough President each make advisory recommendations. If the City Council rejects the plan, the proposal goes back to City Planning, said City Councilmember Alan Gerson, whose district includes the site. He also said negotiations are continuing.

At a March 30 public hearing on the development, Gerson said that unless the developer reduces the size of the building and increases the community space, “I’m absolutely confident that proposal isn’t going anywhere.”

Not everyone in the community objects to the tower. Lawrence Jenzen, 47, a museum worker who lives a few blocks east of the site on Broadway, said the project should proceed as planned. “It’ll bring construction jobs down here and give the neighborhood a shot in the arm,” he said.


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