Volume 17 • Issue 22 | October 22 - 28, 2004

Downtown Express photo by Jennifer Bodrow

Towers of 210 feet would be allowed on West St. under a plan to rezone north Tribeca.

Residents fight plan for north Tribeca towers

By Ronda Kaysen

Plans for a large-scale development along West St. in Tribeca has some community residents concerned that it may have a dramatic affect on the character of their neighborhood.

Developer Jack Parker recently submitted an application to the Department of City Planning to develop a four-block site extending from West to Washington Sts. and from Watts to Hubert. His application has requested to build up to 210 feet on West St., in an area of mostly low-rise buildings.

In a move to influence the process, the Tribeca Community Association and the Canal West Coalition launched an ad campaign dubbed Stop the Wall in reference to the so-called wall that will be the result of the 210-foot development. Earlier this month, the group hosted a Stop the Wall party and has since circulated a petition in the neighborhood. “[City Planning] cannot rezone an entire community for one applicant,” said Carole De Saram, president of the Tribeca Community Association.

Her group plans to meet with City Planning to “express our displeasure” in the proposal. “We are going to insist that City Planning is tuned into our needs,” she said.

Friends of Community Board 1 recently hired a consultant, Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart, to work with the community. Judy Duffy, a Friends member and assistant district manager for C.B. 1 would like to see the north Tribeca neighborhood rezoned in much the same way the rest of Tribeca was zoned in 1995. “What’s really happening [in the neighborhood] is not consistent with the zoning,” she said. Historically home to printing shops, which have mostly moved out of Manhattan, the neighborhood is zoned for manufacturing. Parker’s application requests to change the zoning from manufacturing to commercial, allowing for residential and commercial development.

According to Duffy, aspects of Parker’s plan, such as the large underground parking lot, may benefit the community, but she suspects that the community board will not support the project in its current form. “We have a lot of concerns,” she said. “It would double the population of the area.”

The Jack Parker Corporation, however, insists it will work with the community to reach a resolution. “We’re looking forward to speaking with people on the community board who are concerned about this and we will discuss what we’re planning,” said Richard Gordon, general counsel for the developer.

Some residents, though, see development — and tall development — as not only an inevitable part of the process, but a potentially beneficial part as well. “Once you go over 19 stories, there’s no difference between that and 30 stories,” said Arthur Gregory, a Downtown resident and owner of the A & M Roadhouse, referring to the increase in shadow and loss of views. A taller building gives the community more leverage with the developer to demand amenities, he added.

“If they stopped everything, there wouldn’t be any businesses in New York,” Gregory said. “There’s not going to be a section of Manhattan that doesn’t have tall building, it just took longer to get to Tribeca.”

City Planning may certify the application as early as December, according to Duffy of C.B. 1, after that it will appear before the community board for review.

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