Quinn Deal Reduces Parking — and Housing — at St. Vincent’s Site

A birds-eye view of the St. Vincent's site redevelopment. Under a deal struck by Christine Quinn's office, the number of parking spaces at the site will be reduced by a third. Image: Rudin Management ##http://www.dnainfo.com/20120314/greenwich-village-soho/rudin-management-agrees-significant-modifications-st-vincents-plan##via DNAinfo##

Responding to requests from the community board and advocacy groups, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did what neither the City Planning Commission nor Borough President Scott Stringer would: reduce the excessive number of parking spaces planned for the Rudin family’s redevelopment of the St. Vincent’s Hospital site.

Originally, Rudin proposed building 152 spaces for 450 luxury apartments. That far exceeded the parking maximums in the Village, which would have allowed only 98 spaces. The local community board unanimously recommended that no garage be built at the site, noting that the entrance would be the fourth on a single block, unprecedented for the area. If parking had to be built, they said, there certainly shouldn’t be any more than allowed by law.

Afterward the community board weighed in, however, officials still supported the Rudin bid for extra parking spaces. Stringer, relying on Rudin’s environmental analysis, argued that without spaces of their own, the development’s residents would put too much pressure on nearby parking garages, even though they would not fill them. Then the City Planning Commission approved the special permit needed to build the extra parking, even though the developers failed to show that they needed to exceed the city’s parking maximums.

Final approval for any zoning change has to go through the City Council. In this case, Christine Quinn, both the Speaker and the local representative, could dictate the outcome. The project was seen as a political challenge for Quinn as she runs for mayor, forcing her to placate both her traditional political base in the Village and the big real estate interests she has courted more recently.

As part of a deal struck Wednesday, the number of parking spaces at the new development will drop from 152 to 95. The number of apartments will also be lowered, however, from 450 to 350, while the total square footage will remain the same. Even with the decrease in housing units, the parking ratio for the project falls from 34 percent to 27 percent. But the smaller parking ratio is still more than allowed for regular developments in the Village.

A spokesperson for Quinn’s office said the parking reduction came in response to the community board’s request but did not speak to Quinn’s position on parking policy more generally.

The Municipal Art Society, which advocated against allowing excess parking at the St. Vincent’s site, applauded the change. “Normally, the Council is reluctant to step in,” said MAS Director of Planning Raju Mann. “Hopefully, this signals some indication on the part of the Speaker’s office that this is an issue they care about and are willing to make changes on high-profile developments for.”

  • Ian Turner

    Why on Earth would the city, in the midst of a housing shortage, want to reduce the number of units built?

  • Cberthet

    this is a half measure that still gives 30 % more parking than allowed by the clean air act. 
    and for what benefit? 
    This is the case where we should insist on the city NOT being allowed to break environmental laws just to satisfy the greed of developers. the special permit process was not designed for that purpose.. but indeed 40 % of parking capacity  in Manhattan has been provided courtesy of the city planning commission, which is misusing the special permit process. 

  • gecko39

    At one of the community board meetings it was mentioned to Rudin’s attorney that it was bad enough that children had to use great care around city streets which are essentially 80% of public space; and with mid-block garages and parking they also had to use great care simply walking down the sidewalk;

    Rudin’s attorney said that the law was on their side and they had the right to do this.

    And, hard-to-kill zombie urban policy prevails; and, unfortunately not so for urban citizens

  • Joe R.

    The solution to the driveway problem is obvious-require a basement level entrance to the parking garage, with the ramps taking the cars below grade and under the sidewalk in the street. And make the developer pay for all this. With this added unfunded mandate, I think we would see a lot less parking in new developments. It boggles the mind that you need to accommodate private automobiles at all in a place as transit-rich as lower Manhattan.

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