Broken promises in Tech Hub planning
The following is a letter from Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Carlina Rivera on June 28 regarding zoning changes and protections for the neighborhood ahead of the development for the Tech Hub planned for East 14th Street.
Dear Mayor de Blasio and Councilmember Rivera,
I write regarding commitments that were made following the approval of the upzoning for the planned Tech Hub at 124 East 14th Street. That zoning change was approved by the City Planning Commission over a year ago, on June 27, 2018. Yet as of today, most of the extremely modest commitments made to provide protections or mitigations to the surrounding neighborhood for the negative impact of the planned development have neither been implemented nor even proposed. And several key commitments made by the developer and the city regarding protecting the surrounding community from the impacts of the construction have already been broken.
When the final approval for the Tech Hub upzoning was granted by the City Council, Councilmember Rivera publicly announced that she had won “commitments from the City for a variety of protections…that include”:
“Commencing the process of establishing a protective zoning measure in neighborhoods south of 14th Street that has proven to regulate commercial development” (which was later revealed to mean a requirement for special permits for hotel development in the Third and Fourth Avenue corridors would be implemented)
“A tenant-protection campaign headed by HPD in communities south of the project to ensure that tenants in rent-stabilized buildings know their rights and spot the signs of tenant harassment. This will include community-wide forums, door-knocking campaigns, and priority status for Council District 2 residents who need assistance from the city’s new Tenant Protection Unit”
As of this date, more than a year after the approval by the City Planning Commission, no steps whatsoever have been taken to implement either of these measures.
Meanwhile, demolition and construction work on the project have begun, and the effects of the upzoning are already being felt – just a few blocks away at Broadway and 11th Street and 3rd Avenue and St. Mark’s Place, historic 19th century buildings have been or are being demolished to make way for new tech-related office towers.
Additionally, as video of the Council hearing and submissions by the applicant show, when the Tech Hub upzoning came before the City Council, the developer explicitly committed that all demolition and construction work would be done within the bounds of the property and that neither the sidewalk on 14th Street nor the roadbed would be encroached upon. As you know, this was considered crucial given the traffic flow changes planned for 14th Street due to repair work on the L train.
Instead, with city permission, the developer has encroached upon the sidewalk and two of three lanes of eastbound traffic, forcing pedestrians waiting for the bus to stand in the street. As a result, when MTA buses do stop to pick up and let off passengers in front of the Tech Hub site (where a bus stop is located), they must utilize the single open lane of traffic, thus blocking any and all eastbound traffic on 14th Street.
As you know, we and many residents of the affected neighborhoods were highly critical of the lack of true neighborhood protections included in the Tech Hub upzoning, and found these very modest measures which were offered inadequate to mitigate the impacts of the upzoning. It is deeply disturbing to see that a full year after the approval, while the developer has moved full steam ahead with their project, there has been no movement whatsoever on any of these incredibly modest protections which were promised, and commitments which were made regarding ensuring work on the project and its impact would be contained have been broken right out of the gate.
Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Obvious changes in Stuyvesant Town
Re: “The Stuy Town of yesteryear is gone,” T&V, July 18
I read with great interest the letter about yesteryear in Stuy Town. I moved here recently and much to my dismay, I knew nothing about how it has changed. I see people picnicking on the lawns, sunbathing by the oval and dogs everywhere. There are about nine young people on my floor and I rarely get a good night’s sleep. I have to dodge the dogs and their souvenirs. I also have to listen to a piano player two floors away. One neighbor told me she was allowed to play music as loud as she wanted because “my daddy” is a lawyer and I would be harassing her if I complain. I cannot believe how Stuy Town has changed. What a shame. It used to be when you told someone you moving to Stuy Town, they would be in awe. Now they wish you luck.