Monday, February 20, 2023

Site cleanup needed before development can begin on this long-empty corner on 14th and C

As reported last June, there are proposed plans to build a 24-story, 166-unit residential building — including 50 "affordable" units — on the long-vacant lot on the SW corner of 14th Street and Avenue C. 

Last year it was revealed that the site at 644 E. 14th St. — across the street from the Con Edison power plant — contains some contamination and city agencies are inviting public comment on the proposed remedy.

Per a fact sheet (PDF):
The public is invited to comment on a proposed remedy being reviewed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), in consultation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), to address contamination related to the 644 East 14th Street Site ...

Based on the findings of the investigation, NYSDEC, in consultation with the NYSDOH, has determined that the site does not pose a significant threat to public health or the environment. The decision is based on the soil, groundwater and soil vapor analytical data collected at the site as presented in the Remedial Investigative Report (RIR).
Thursday is the deadline to comment. This link has information about how to do so. And more background and documents here.
The corner property has been in a stalled-development mode for years. This corner property last housed the single-level R&S Strauss auto parts store, which closed in April 2009.

There are already approved plans for a 15-floor mixed-use building, though no affordable units are attached to this version. As revealed in the spring of 2021, several developers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby the city for NYCHA air rights to make this a larger structure with more housing.

This past spring, the NYCHA and Madison Realty Capital filed documents seeking a non-ULURP modification — known as an LSRD — to the development plan. (Madison Realty Capital paid Opal Holdings $31.3 million for the property in May 2020, and Opal Holdings bought the parcel in June 2016 for $23 million.)

Here are some of the maneuverings necessary to expand the footprint of the building, as first reported by PincusCo:
The application seeks to modify the boundaries of the previously approved plans and zoning calculations by expanding the zoning lot to include 644 East 14th Street (Block 396, Lot 29). Through the zoning lot merger, the development rights from the existing LSRD comprised of Campos Plaza I and II, which are owned by a joint venture that includes NYCHA ... can be transferred to Block 396, Lot 29, a vacant property owned by Madison Realty Capital.
Last June, Community Board 3 signed off on the plan, which will generate $19.5 million for the NYCHA, to be exclusively used at the adjacent Campos Plaza II for capital repairs and other programmatic needs as determined by a community planning process involving NYCHA and the residents of Campos Plaza II.

Our last post on the development has more background, including renderings and some opposition to the building. Per one resident: "While we are all for the development of that corner ... and the affordable housing element of the plans, we are not happy with the sheer size of the footprint and the excessive height that goes along with the proposal." 

Aside from the pending site-contamination work, the DOB application for the new building was assigned to a plan examiner on Feb. 1, per public records.


  1. It still blows my mind that evgrieve readers get top-notch reporting like this for free, without even ads or occasional pointers to a tip jar. How do you do it Grieve?

  2. Thank you!

    I didn't mention in the post that the initial tip about the cleanup came via a reader... grateful for those submissions...

  3. EV, thank you so much for posting this. I live on the block and can say for sure that no one who lives here was aware of this (ie. no outreach to our property manager, no CB3 notification even though they know us; and some tenants have been in active touch with our Council Member Rivera’s office and this did not come up). That said, our big concern at this point isn’t contamination remediation but the potential impact on our row of 130+ year old buildings of the pile driving that will be needed to build a large 26 story building on landfill. Where is the Department of Buildings on this? There should be an Adjacent Property Review and plan to prevent damage to the adjacent buildings. (The owner of #642 sued a prior developer of #644 for property damage from earlier excavation.) The three buildings closest to #644 are all rental and the tenants of #642 especially are concerned they could be forced from their homes if the building is damaged by construction at #644.

  4. I live at 642 E. 14th Street. I heartily second the comment above. Me and my fellow tenants at 642 are very concerned about the damage that might occur to our building. With the excavation below surface to be 15 feet per the DEC fact sheet, we’ll be teetering at the edge of a cliff. (Not to mention the cranes that will be needed for the construction phase of this project; winds off the east river can be horrendous during bad weather! Of course we are told nothing by our landlord or management company—or the developer (hardly surprising). But lives are potentially at stake here.

  5. With all of the street parking going away, this seems like an ideal spot for a parking garage. Who would want to live overlooking a noisy power plant anyway?

    1. It’s not noisy at all. In fact, this block is one of the quietest in all of the city

  6. "There are already approved plans for a 15-floor mixed-use building, though no affordable units are attached to this version."

    Of course not. They reserve the "affordable units" argument for justification (and neighborhood placation) when they want to knock down some beautiful period townhouses or something.

  7. "Some tenants have been in active touch with our Council Member Rivera’s office and this did not come up." LOLOL

  8. Thank you Mr. EVG. As mentioned above, first rate reporting on the ongoing predatory real estate development that does not get much coverage in this city, as always.

  9. Need to get rid of that West Nile mosquito breeding ground as well.

  10. Cant believe I'm saying this, even sarcastically, but bring back the auto parts!

  11. and what is affordable housing? Will be $3000 instead of 4500?


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