Applications for Special Parking Permits Keep Rolling in to City Planning

City Planning needs to decide whether to legalize this parking garage make its illegal extra cars
City Planning will decide whether to let this 44th Street parking garage buck the Clean Air Act and store 90 more cars than currently allowed by law. Image: ##http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=332+W.+44th+Street,+NY&sll=40.760987,-73.994665&sspn=0.004006,0.009602&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=332+W+44th+St,+New+York,+10036&ll=40.759105,-73.990211&spn=0.000501,0.0012&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=40.759059,-73.990102&panoid=tOjiCEhSM__NQXr2KA0zwA&cbp=12,274.69,,0,5##Google Street View##.

With two days until the City Planning Commission votes on the parking-heavy Riverside Center mega-project, the commissioners had a chance yesterday to ask any final questions about the project before the vote. As it happened, they didn’t bring up parking at that section of the meeting, but parking was a hot topic elsewhere on the commission’s agenda, including a pair of requests for special permits to build more parking below 60th Street.

First up, though, was an example of more enlightened planning: Courtlandt Crescent, slated to be the next development in the South Bronx’s much-heralded Melrose Commons revitalization project. This 217-apartment project, which will also house a 10,000 square foot child-care center, will include 29 spaces for cars, according to Department of City Planning staffer Vineeta Mathur. Courtlandt Crescent will also have parking for 110 bicycles.

When planning commission member Angela Battaglia wondered why there was so little car parking included, chair Amanda Burden responded, “It’s expensive. As you know, it would affect the affordability.” Battaglia then agreed that the affordability levels were indeed admirable.

Next was a request for a special permit to build a 42-space garage on the ground floor of a downtown office building. The building, located at the corner of Water and Broad Streets, is going to be the new home of the New York Daily News, and the News is requesting the garage so that its reporters and photographers can quickly get in a car and drive off to cover a story, according to DCP’s Grace Han. The garage would convert an existing loading bay and an under-used mailroom.

The desire to use ground floor space for a parking garage stands in sharp contrast to the Downtown Alliance’s new vision for Water Street, which calls for remaking the entire length of the corridor to put pedestrians first and revitalize street life. That vision has started to take shape with a DOT pedestrian plaza at Water and Whitehall Streets [PDF].

The final item was another special permit for a parking garage, this time a public garage on West 44th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. The garage currently is allowed to hold 260 cars but often stores more and has been cited for doing so by the Department of Buildings, according to DCP’s Erike Sellke. The garage, which exits onto 43rd Street across the street from an elementary school, is applying for permission to hold up to 350 cars.

Both Manhattan lots require a special permit because no new off-street parking is allowed in Manhattan south of 60th Street without one, in order for the city to comply with the federal Clean Air Act. But special permits are nearly always granted, weakening the effectiveness of the regulation. Things got so bad that a lawsuit recently forced the city to crack down on special permits and put a hard cap on the number of off-street spaces in the Hudson Yards area on Manhattan’s Far West Side. As part of the settlement, the City Planning Commission stated in city law that limiting the amount of off-street parking is an important component of “creating an area with a transit-and pedestrian-oriented neighborhood character.”

The West 44th Street lot is just one block away from the Hudson Yards area. Will the same logic apply?

  • Thanks for reporting on this, Noah. It’s very important stuff.

  • Wouldn’t it make more sense for Daily News reporters and photographers to rent offices in the areas that they cover? They could use the internet to submit their copy.

  • drosejr

    Btw, final EIS on City Planning website says 1800 parking spaces will be allowed at Riverside Center, not 1280. Not sure if difference is due to Auto service center, or something else.

  • Is it just me, or does Amanda Burden speak with a forked tongue?

  • tacony palmyra

    Is NYC DOT still not using this lot? http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/18/man-arrested-in-pay-to-park-scam/

    Why don’t they sell it to the Daily News if they’re not using it?

  • Streetsblog readers should check out the entire Melrose Commons Plan, and learn how Nos Quedamos organized the Melrose community to fight off a plan that would have displaced local residents and put in low-density, unaffordable townhouses, and to envision, and ultimately realize, a plan based on livability, sustainability, a decade before those ideas went mainstream. In both the quality of the environment they are building, and in the integrity of the planning and organizing processes they continue to nurture, Nos Quedamos sets a standard that more affluent communities would do well to emulate. See http://nosquedamos.org/projects.html for details of the plan.

  • I am so glad you mentioned this … cb4 has not yet reviewed this.
    The more frustrating aspect is that parkings just break the law and come to city planning to legalize operations . That was the case in Chelsea where a parking operated for 10 years at triple approved capacity and then was legalized .

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Developers Adding More Parking Than They’re Supposed To, Thanks to DCP

|
For years, the City Planning Commission approved special permits that let developers in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea get around limits on parking construction in the Manhattan core. Recently, the city implemented a new formula that reformers hoped would curtail these permits. But Community Board 4, Council Member Corey Johnson, and Borough President Gale Brewer say the city’s math […]

The Parking Cure Part 2: Do the Right Tests

|
We continue with our look at recommendations proposed in "Suburbanizing the City," a report issued by a cross-section of public interest groups on the detrimental effects of off-street parking policies on city traffic. Last week we visited the city’s parking doctor and got the wrong medicine. In this episode of city parking malpractice, the parking […]

City Planning Commission Approves 400-Car Garage for Hell’s Kitchen

|
Two weeks ago Streetsblog reported on the glut of public parking garages being built in Hell’s Kitchen, which threatens to worsen traffic conditions in one of New York’s most congested neighborhoods. The City Planning Commission could have set a precedent last Friday by denying a developer’s request to build a 400-car public garage as part […]

The Parking Cure, Step 1: Diagnose the Problem

|
This curb-cutting driveway leads to a parking lot for a new residential development on 16th Street in Brooklyn. What would you do if you went to the doctor, and before speaking to you, taking your vital signs, or learning about your condition, she prescribed a powerful drug and kicked you out the door? New York […]