The Real Deal New York

New program could speed up City Planning review

Initiative could save developers $100M annually
June 21, 2012 01:30PM

The Department of City Planning will launch a new initiative July 2 to speed the pre-certification process for projects that require land use review, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced today at an Association for a Better New York event.

Called Business Process Reform, or BluePRint, the new program will allow City Planning to review applications up to 50 percent faster than it does today, expediting applicants’ progress prior to the formal public review stage, known as Uniform Land Use Review Process, which takes a maximum of seven months.

During the pre-application process, City Planning works with developers to formulate land use proposals and conduct an environmental analysis ahead of ULURP. Steel said streamlining that process would save developers some $100 million annually, and help the agency work through the 500 applications it receives annually at a faster pace.

“More development means more jobs for New Yorkers, and BluePRint simplifies the way applications are reviewed so those jobs can be created as soon as possible,” he said. “City Planning’s BluePRint initiative is part of making New York City a better place to do business.”

Now, developers will benefit from fewer steps, a more transparent and predictable process and better internal coordination among City Planning officials. By the time all the planned upgrades are fully implemented in 2015, City Planning promises there will be a system for electronic applications that will allow developers, and the public, to track the certification.

Revamping the pre-certification process for land use review took $2 million and 18 months to develop. It follows a separate program launched in April that aimed to help speed the approval process for new Department of Building applications through three-dimensional, electronic submissions.

Real Estate Board of New York Chairman Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE Group welcomed the change, calling the existing pre-certification structure the most problematic aspect of real estate development in the city.

“It has been time-consuming, costly and unpredictable. BluePRint is taming this unwieldy process bringing transparency, efficiency and greater certainty to this critical stage of a development project,” she said. — Adam Fusfeld