Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Developers for post office-replacing project seek variance for a 12-story building



Crews have been at work at 432-438 E. 14th St., the former site of the Peter Stuyvesant Post Office that is yielding to an 8-story, 114-unit (23 affordable, 91 market rate) mixed-use building here between Avenue A and First Avenue.

The renderings on the plywood could be a collector's item now, though...



Reps for the developers (Benenson Capital Partners in association with the Mack Real Estate Group) are lobbying to receive a zoning variance for a 12-story building.

On June 15, the reps will start with Community Board 3's Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee. Ahead of that meeting, there's a 300-plus page document (PDF!) on file at the CB3 website with background, analysis, engineering reports, etc.

For starters, the documents show that the East 13th Street portion of the proposed new building would be eight stories in height (80 feet), with a setback above the sixth floor. The East 14th Street portion of the building would rise 12 stories (124 feet) without setbacks. Retail space would occupy the first floor of the East 14th Street side of the building.

According to the documents, the site "is burdened by a combination of unique conditions that result in practical difficulties in complying with the applicable zoning regulations."

Specifically: "Unusually elevated groundwater levels and exceedingly soft and unstable soil (owing to the presence of an underground stream) ... result in extraordinary construction costs, which make a complying development with affordable housing infeasible." (An analysis of the project put the extra construction costs due to the substandard soil at $8.8 million.)

However, the developer's proposal of a larger building "would generate sufficient income to offset the cost of development and provide a reasonable return on investment."

The documents state that the proposed development "is contextual with the surrounding neighborhood" ... and will "provide 31 units of affordable housing." Overall, the new building would have 155 units.

In conclusion, the proposed larger development "is the only financially feasible project that can be constructed at the site."



The city's Board of Standard and Appeals has recognized substandard soil conditions "as a unique physical condition causing practical difficulties and unnecessary hardship in at least eight variances in the past seven years," per the developer's research.

The elevated groundwater levels and "soft and unstable soil" must be behind the ongoing foundation work at 500 and 538 E. 14th St., where Extell Development is putting up two 7-floor retail-residential buildings. (We have not heard if either building will include an affordable-housing component.) After more than a year, there still isn't any sign of the new buildings above the grade.

Updated:

The committee meeting on June 15 is open to the public. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. ... in the University Settlement at Houston Street Center — 273 Bowery.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how this works. When they bought the building didn't they know the groundwater and soil conditions, and didn't that get factored into the price? Or did they figure they would file a 300-page document that no one would understand and successfully "lobby" for a variance? Have the soil conditions changed in two hundred years? Call me cynical.

Anonymous said...

This project received tax-exempt financing earlier this year from the NYS Housing Finance Agency because of the "affordable" component (I believe it's an "80/20" project with 20% affordable units). I don't know how they can threaten to drop the affordable units unless they are finding a new source of financing.

Anonymous said...

Some simple research online regarding the topography of this immediate area would have told them that there is a stream here and surprise the block over were marsh and wetlands. There is a spring near the police station on Ave C as well. I don't see why the city should reward these idiots for not doing their homework first. If the developers win this zoning variance they the Extel site will double in height as well and establish a new "normal" in building heights here. These developers are not building an orphanage or building that will serve the poorest in our society but like any other business bad decisions were made and the residents of this neighborhood are suppose to suffer for it.

lue glass said...

great - LET THEM NOT BUILD
everyone wants a variance
why have zoning at all
apartments now cost over a $million, actually few are as cheap as a $million, and they can't make 8 stories work for them?
i say f--k them and all the out of their greedy minds developers.

Anonymous said...

This took 5 minutes with google: http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NewYorkWaterways-viele-1865
Zoom into the area of the old post office and you will see a sizable stream.

John said...

I don't think the city has any obligation to guarantee the profitability of a private real estate development.

Anonymous said...

They developer agreed to provide the affordable housing, under whatever terms they found acceptable at the time. Now they want a variance because they can't get a reasonable return on their investment with the affordable housing! Something is wrong with that picture.

Anonymous said...

Are they Fracking on this site yet

Anonymous said...

Extell has been running pumps to keep the water levels down, and they've just moved them INTO the foundation which means they will be a permanent fixture. This problem might have been why the previous structures on this site weren't high. Anyway, given how little respect they've shown running these loud pumps since December, I have no sympathy as they're probably burning cash to address this problem. The new building on 12th and A is WAY ahead of the Extell development in terms of floors completed, which is telling.

Kqétian Space said...

Just an excuse to not build affordable housing. Yet, another bait and switch. Just let the Meaghan and Connor take over the EV. Resistance is futile.

Anonymous said...

Oh for f***'s sake. Yeah, they hadn't planned this at all. Eye roll.

Anonymous said...

LOL where can I buy myself a few gross of those "THIS IS GONNA SUCK" stickers?

Makeout said...

Fuck that. Turn it into a park with the stream restored.

Anonymous said...

Fist rule in development: DON'T BUY OR BUILD ON SWAMP LAND!

cmarrtyy said...

It's obvious with what's going on in the EV that the real estate industry thinks that we're an easy target. We have ineffective pols and a Community Board that bends over for them. Look at the disgraceful act of Mt. Sinai! They are sanitizing 1st Ave so they can sell that huge lot free of the problems associated with a hospital... poverty, addiction... noise... the sick... the police and sending it all over to 13th a residential street. And nobody... but nobody says a word. You watch it... this will be approved... It's par for the course. Where is help. Isn't there anybody who cares about the EV!?

Giovanni said...

Give me a super-sized break. As many people noted right here on EV Grieve several years ago, an old stream runs under this area, and everyone knows it. Many buildings in the area have pumps in the basement just to keep the water out. So surprise, NOW thay want to change the zoning, as if they didn't know about this before they started digging? And they want to hold the affordable housing allotment hostage in return for their own supposed ignorance? Obviously these real estate geniuses either don't read EV Grieve or they a lying. Take your pick.

Having my cake and eating all your cake too said...

Oh, this is rich. (pun intended)

Anonymous said...

Caveat emptor.

Michael Ivan said...

Everything is shit except you love. ~ Steve Powers

Anonymous said...

Fuck that. The zoning is there for a reason. Too fucking bad if you won't make your millions on millions. You don't get to pick and choose the rules. Next time test the soil like you're supposed to before buying out an entire block.

Anonymous said...

See, De Blasio hinted that these rezoned neighborhoods -- for so-called affordable housing -- are needed. And, yes, this will set a precedent -- which is what De Blasio wants.

Get him out of office none too soon.

Jill said...

Please everyone get yourselves over to that meeting and protest this. You must not continue to stand by and watch them take over, brick by brick. Petition your neighbors, write to your elected officials, take action.

Anonymous said...

I want those THIS IS GONNA SUCK stickers too!! Fuck them and their ugly ass buildings. Get to that meeting and protest. Somebody has to start...and why not us!!!!

chris flash said...

They claim that the proposed larger development "is the only financially feasible project that can be constructed at the site." It seems to me that the previous structure on that site had been feasible for more than 50 years. The maggots who acquired this parcel only did so with the promise of subsidies, abatements and other CORPORATE WELFARE incentives.

ENOUGH of zoning variances that artificially inflate the value of a parcel!! NO taxpayer dollars should be wasted on subsidizing construction of market rate housing, with abatements that allow developers to contribute NOTHING to the city's tax rolls, as taxes on family-owned properties increase each year.

Politicians who allow, enable and facilitate this shit need to be investigated, removed from office and tried for violating their oaths of office.