City Planning Officials Explain Reservations About Chinatown Zoning Proposal
City Limits has a big piece today on the Chinatown Working Group (CWG), a community organization that’s been working for several years on a neighborhood master plan. City officials signaled a few months ago that they would not support the sweeping zoning proposal in its entirety. Members of the CWG are pursuing a few different tactics (from stepped up protest to compromise) to strike a deal. The publication talked with city planning honchos about the road forward:
“The CWG’s proposal for aggressive across-the-board height limits is in conflict with accomplishing the goal of bringing more, high-quality affordable housing to Chinatown and Lower East Side,” says Edith Hsu-Chen, director of the Manhattan office of DCP. Officials also say that the streets of these neighborhoods have a varied character that may call for a more nuanced zoning. In addition, the city is concerned that the plan’s affordability targets are too aggressive to be required through zoning. “Historically, the City has only required levels of affordable housing at 50 percent of the total units in unique circumstances – for instance, if a development is being built on city-owned land (as was the case in Seward Park). We know that for private developments not receiving city subsidies or other benefits, if we require 50 percent of units to be affordable, we will end up getting nothing,” says Hsu-Chen. She added that subsidies and other programs can increase affordability levels in a neighborhood where growth is planned… Asked which parts of the plan they would likely support, DCP officials declined to specify, while insisting they were not saying “no” to the proposal altogether. Going forward, they hope to understand how much housing production and preservation could come out of the plan. They also noted there may be differing viewpoints within the Chinatown Working Group, and said they hoped to determine whether there is truly community consensus around the plan.
You can read the article here.