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.
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.