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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Carter's View

Community Board 4 voted last night to oppose the creation of a park in the ?Hudson Yards? district as part of a proposed development by Rockrose Development Corporation of a residential building at 455 West 37th Street.

The board passed a resolution without a negative vote that noted that Rockrose is seeking authorization from the City Planning Commission to transfer air-rights from the mid-block portion of the site to the avenue frontage under the provisions of the recently enacted Special Hudson Yards District that permits such transfers if the site includes a public facility that provides a ?necessary service? to the area.

The resolution stated that the transfer would allow a residential tower of about 32 stories that would extend along most of the blockfront between 37th and 38th Streets, ?producing a classic ?tower in a park? building form.? ?This provision of the Zoning Resolution was intended to facilitate siting and construction of one of the public facilities that will be required as the population of Hudson Yards increases, such as a fire station, police station or school."

?Efforts by Rockrose to interest FDNY, NYPD and the School Construction Authority were apparently unavailing. They have turned to other ideas such as a stable for police horses, a synagogue and now a park. A park is not the kind of public facility that the zoning intends. It does not provide a necessary service. Nonetheless, this Board likes parks, of which we have relatively few,? the resolution maintained.

On March 8, members of the board?s Clinton/Hell?s Kitchen Land Use Committee met with Rockrose and the resolution said they were ?unanimous in their skepticism that the proposed park would be a desirable public amenity.? ?The shadow diagrams show that it would largely be in shade during the times when [it would potentially be most actively used,? the resolution continued, adding that ?Area residents were concerned that the proposed tower form would erect a wall between the Hell?s Kitchen core and areas to the west, and that the park would become an empty hole separating the tower from the Hell?s Kitchen core.? The committee unanimously recommended that Rockrose not pursue the park proposal and the resolution passed last night stated that the Board ?subsequently learned that Rockrose nonetheless intends to proceed with an application for an authorization.?

?This strikes us as yet another example of a developer trying to bend the requirements of the new Hudson Yards zoning to suit their development aspirations. As it did recently with Cirque du Soleil, City Planning should resist this attempt,? the resolution said. The Related Companies had sought authorization to permit it create a facility for the popular Cirque du Soleil organization on its huge development site on West 42nd Street, but various civic and theater groups protested that it was not a ?legitimate theater? use.?

Rockrose is one of the city?s most prominent developers. Its projects include Carnegie Hall Tower on West 57th Street and a seven-building residential complex designed by Arquitectonica for Long Island City. Rockrose has acquired development sites on both sides of Tenth Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets and published reports have indicated that its three parcels there might eventually contain about 1,400 apartments. Most of the company?s residential projects are rentals.

Calls by to Rockrose today were not returned.

?The as-of-right building on the Rockrose site,? the resolution concluded, ?is exactly what the zoning intends. The lower wings of the mid-block portion of the site will fill in gaps in the streetwall and begin to put the neighborhood back together?.It would be especially unfortunate for the first residential building to be constructed under the new Hudson Yards zoning to be an exception to the design parameters that were carefully established....?

Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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