The Daily Dirt: Governors Island rezoning moves forward

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Governors Island is one step closer to a rezoning — and to becoming a year-round attraction.

On Tuesday, the City Council committee on land use gave the green light to the rezoning, which would clear the way for nearly 4 million square feet of development, including university space, hotels, offices, retail, and biotech and research facilities across 34 acres of the island’s southern end. The approval also includes tweaks that cap building heights, overall square footage and intrusions on public space.

New commercial development would be concentrated in two areas on the southwest and southeast ends of the island, home to vacant Coast Guard buildings and former barracks, which would be demolished. Changes to the original proposal would cap total square footage of new developments at 3.77 million square feet. New buildings could rise no higher than 200 feet, except for one that could rise 225. The proposal would also limit office and hotel square footage on the island, though those restrictions are still being hammered out.

The rezoning application entered the public portion of the city’s land use review in October. The rezoning aims to create a steady revenue stream to maintain the island and turn it into a year-round attraction.

A month before the application was certified, the de Blasio administration and the Trust for Governors Island announced a “Climate Solution Center,” which would be anchored by an academic or research institution focused on the impacts of climate change. A partner hasn’t been selected, but the Trust says the climate center would create 8,000 jobs and generate $1 billion in activity.

The rezoning sought by the Trust isn’t without controversy. Manhattan Community Board 1 members cited concerns about the potential scale of development. Another group, the Metro Area Governors Island Coalition, also criticized the proposal’s density, and framed its opposition as a fight for “the preservation of natural habitat and beauty.”

Roger Manning and Allie Ryan, co-founders of the coalition, called the city’s changes “inadequate.”

“Any new construction should be kept to minimum and not exceed the four-story height of buildings in the historic district,” they said in a statement.

Council member Margaret Chin, whose Manhattan district includes the island, had voiced concerns in a previous committee meeting. In a statement Tuesday, she praised the modifications to the proposal, saying they ensure expanded ferry service to the island and prioritize public park use in open space within the rezoning area. By custom, her vote as the local member will determine the application’s fate.

What we’re thinking about: Will a proposal to convert vacant hotel and office space to residential use regain momentum? Send a note to

A thing we’ve learned…

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Watchdog group Housing Rights Initiative is opening a satellite office in Jersey City, its founder Aaron Carr.


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Tuesday was $14.8 million for a condo at 1010 Park Avenue on the Upper East Side.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $30.7 million for a retail building at 407 Park Avenue in Midtown.


The priciest residence to hit the market was a condo at 25 Columbus Circle in Lincoln Square at $10.5 million. Douglas Elliman has the listing.
— Research by Orion Jones

Elsewhere in New York

— Now that the mayoral campaign of Democrat Eric Adams is gaining steam, opponents are criticizing his past affiliation with the Republican Party, Politico New York reports. Adams was a registered Republican from 1995 to 2002. He was elected to the state Senate in 2006.

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said the state could approve the Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds in New York as early as Thursday, NBC New York. Separately, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will not require teachers and students to be vaccinated as a condition of returning to school in the fall.

— The first Campaign Finance Board–sponsored mayoral primary debate is slated for Thursday. According to the City, Eric Adams, Andrew Yang, Kathryn Garcia, Shaun Donovan, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley are participating.