REBNY critical of city’s waterfront plan

By Adam Pincus | March 06, 2009 03:07PM

Proposed seating options (Source: DCP)

The city’s leading real estate trade association criticized portions of the Bloomberg administration’s proposed waterfront rezoning plan for potentially shrinking a building’s footprint and providing confusing rules for designing areas such as public seating and tree placement in testimony presented at a public hearing Wednesday.

While noting the zoning plan does not change bulk, height or setback rules, testimony submitted by Carol Van Guilder, vice president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said that it could in some instances “further restrict the building footprint by requiring 70 or 80 feet of open space between the shore line and the end of the driveway.”

The group also said a section outlining regulations regarding shading of public seating was onerous.

“This section should be eliminated from the proposed text and should not be reconsidered until there has been sufficient time to study how it will work,” the REBNY statement said.

The Department of City Planning is proposing an overhaul of the rules governing development along the waterfront, generally focusing on design regulations in the publicly-accessible areas near the city’s waterways.

Although praising the city for tackling the complex regulations originally laid out in 1993, REBNY senior vice president Michael Slattery said in an interview yesterday that the city must weigh the interests of aesthetics and access with what developers are able to build.

“There needs to be a balance between what we are trying to protect and what we are trying to create,” he said.

The Department of City Planning will take the input from the speakers as well as borough presidents and community boards before making a final determination, expected in April, agency spokesperson Jennifer Torres said in an e-mail.

“City Planning will continue to work with interested stakeholders to arrive at the best possible plan to enhance the quality of new waterfront development,” she said.

Michael Samuelian, an architect with the Related Companies and co-chair of the American Institute of Architects planning and urban design committee, submitted similar criticisms of the plan as REBNY.

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