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NY1 reports that the City Planning Commission approved its proposed Coney Island rezoning this morning in an almost unanimous vote (one new Commissioner abstained).   The plan calls for development of hotels and housing (4,500 market-rate units and 900 affordable units), “entertainment retail,” and more City control of the amusement area, as part of the boardwalk would become mapped parkland.

Issues remain with the City’s development plans, however.  Developer Thor Equities still owns much of the land within the proposed rezoning area, and the City needs State approval to alienate parkland before it can arrange the land-swap deal it hopes to use to purchase Thor’s land.

The rezoning will go before City Council for final approval within 50 days.


Apologies for the late notice on this one, but this meeting was just brought to our attention this morning — Tonight the Department of City Planning will present its preliminary plans for the West Harlem Special District.

Proposed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in 2007, the special district is based in part on Manhattan Community Board 9’s 197-a plan (which was our Community-Based Plan of the Month in April).

According to Stringer, the Special District will include:

  • Contextual Zoning, with density and height limits, to preserve the physical character of the neighborhoods and quell displacement pressures.
  • Community Facility reforms, which would stop grossly out-of-scale developments and discourage dorms and university uses in residential areas.
  • Inclusionary Housing in certain areas, to channel new development toward the creation of housing that is affordable to West Harlem residents.
  • Density bonuses for “business incubators,” to provide incentives for developers to provide affordably priced retail or commercial space to local businesses.
  • Anti-Harassment Provisions and Demolition Restrictions, which would penalize property owners who harass their tenants, and discourage the demolition of occupied sound housing.
  • Special Off-street Parking Regulations, to ensure that parking in the area serves the needs of residents and encourages transit-based development instead of causing traffic congestion and pollution.

Tonight’s meeting is hosted by Manhattan CB9 and will take place at 6:30 pm at Broadway Housing, 583 Riverside Dr.@ 135th Street.

If you are interested in community advocacy on this issue, contact the West Harlem Community Preservation Organization (CPO) at

According to the New York Observer, City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden announced last week that the Department of City Planning will soon release new zoning incentives for supermarkets.  Based on a citywide study that DCP conducted last year, the goal of these incentives will be to encourage supermarkets to locate in underserved neighborhoods.  The Observer reports:

“The proposal… encourages developers to build grocery stores by not counting the store as part of a larger building’s development rights (i.e. if a developer is allowed to build a 50,000-square-foot apartment building with retail, if they put in a 15,000 square foot supermarket, it wouldn’t be counted toward that 50,000 square feet), among other inducements.”

Burden said to expect certification this month.

The City Planning Commission certified its planned rezoning of 180 blocks in Flatbush, Brooklyn, signaling the start of the public review process.

“Flatbush is one of the city’s most architecturally diverse and breathtakingly beautiful residential neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Amanda M. Burden, “The historic 20th century Victorian architecture, generous lawns and mature trees as well as the diversity of its apartment building and active retail character are what make this area so special.”

Flatbush Gardner has more details, including maps and an analysis of how the rezoning plan intends to meet the community’s goals, articulated during the Imagine Flatbush 2030 community visioning process.

This Wednesday, March 4 at 9 am (note the early start time), the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing.  Among the items being heard are the following big projects:

More information on procedure for what is sure to be a packed hearing is here.

Last week, the Department of City Planning announced a new zoning text amendment that, if passed, would update the city’s inclusionary housing program.  Established in 1987 in the city’s highest-density districts, and expanded in 2005 to both medium- and high-density areas, the inclusionary zoning provides developers with a floor area bonus in exchange for the creation or preservation of affordable housing, either on-site or within the community district.  DCP estimates that the program has created or preserved 1,770 units of affordable housing since 2005, most of which are units available to households earning less than 80% of the area median income (AMI).

The most significant change proposed in the text amendment is the addition of a permanently affordable home ownership option.  Currently, all affordable units created through inclusionary zoning are rental.  The amendment would dictate a restricted sale price, making inclusionary ownership units available to households making 80% AMI.  It would also cap appreciation of these units at a level affordable to those making 125% AMI.

DCP has created a presentation outlining these and other proposed changes here. The amendment is currently under review by community boards and borough presidents, and DCP will hold a public hearing after April 27.

The Department of City Planning’s controversial rezoning plan for Coney Island moved forward today, as the City officially began the ULURP process for the plan.  Despite recommendations from organizations such as the Municipal Art Society that the City expand its proposed “amusement area,” the plan as certified calls for 9 acres of mapped parkland for amusement park use and 15 acres of a new zoning designation that calls for enclosed amusements, restaurants, “entertainment retail,” and in some areas, hotels.

The plan also calls for the creation of between 4,000 and 5,000 new units of housing, including 900 units of affordable housing, outside this “amusement area,” and development of new local and destination retail options.  In order for this new development to occur, the City must get State approval to demap the parkland currently used as parking lots for KeySpan Park.

Public review begins with a hearing at the local community board.  We will do our best to keep you updated on hearing dates/times!

The Community-Based Plan of the Month is a new feature, highlighting plans included in Planning for All New Yorkers: An Atlas of Community-Based Plans in New York City, an interactive map created by the Municipal Art Society and the Community-Based Planning Task Force.  As the recent economic slowdown gives us the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate New York City’s planning processes, community-based plans can provide a framework for growth that works for all New Yorkers.  The plans featured in this column will provide examples of how inclusive planning processes work on the ground, and ideally will help inspire future community planning efforts.

Stable-izing Brooklyn

When the Fort Hamilton Parkway interchange of the Prospect Expressway was completed in 1962 under the direction of Robert Moses, a small, eight-block section of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn was severed from its neighbors.  This quirky area was once home to a number of horse stables due to its proximity to Prospect Park, but now only one remains: Kensington Stables, located at East 8th Street and Caton Avenue.  Since Claremont Riding Academy near Central Park closed last year, Kensington Stables is among New York’s few remaining urban stables.

The desire to preserve the stables and the low-rise residential enclave that surrounds them inspired a group of residents to come together in 2005 to plan for their neighborhood’s future.  Calling themselves the Stable Brooklyn Community Group, they began organizing their neighbors with a walking tour to survey vacant lots and buildings under development (shown above in front of the stables, via the group’s website).  Next, homeowners, renters, visitors, and equestrians discussed the neighborhood’s development, traffic, sanitation, and safety concerns with representatives of Brooklyn Community Board 7 and the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office.  In spring 2006, representatives from the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development led two community visioning workshops in the neighborhood.  The process culminated in the release of a report, Stable-izing Brooklyn (PDF), in July 2006.  Read more after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

On December 2, a coalition of civic leaders, neighborhood advocates, community development organizations, labor unions, affordable housing groups, environmentalists, immigrant advocates, and other stakeholders launched One City/One Future: A Blueprint for Growth that Works for All New Yorkers. The Community-Based Planning Task Force is part of this broad and diverse coalition, which is led by New York Jobs With Justice, the National Employment Law Project, and the Pratt Center for Community Development.

The document provides 54 recommendations for policies following three fundamental strategies:

  • Raise the Standards: Government should set clear standards for economic activity in New York City, especially activity that benefits from public spending or actions. Meeting these standards — whether they concern the quality of jobs created or the environmental sustainability of new buildings — must be a prerequisite for anyone doing business with the city.
  • Invest for Shared Growth: The city and state currently spend billions keeping New York’s economy humming. These investments in housing, transportation, and employment need to be designed and managed with the explicit objective of improving opportunity and strengthening neighborhoods.
  • Reform the Process: Planning and development must take place in an open and democratic environment, in which communities and the city work as partners, not adversaries, with the objective of building a prosperous city on the strength of livable neighborhoods.

The Task Force contributed policy recommendations dealing with planning reform. These include a call to implement a citywide planning framework that represents a conversation between the City and communities, as well as recommendations for how to make community boards effective partners.

The full report is available for download at

Yesterday, the Department of City Planning proposed a new zoning text amendment that will require indoor, secure, long-term bicycle parking in new multi-family residential, commercial, and community facility construction.

With commuter cycling on the rise in the City, this new amendment seeks to support current riders and encourage new ones, while decreasing congestion and air pollution. The DCP website outlines the details, including the fact that these bike parking areas would not count toward a building’s floor area.

ULURP for this proposal will begin with review by all community boards starting November 17.

Photo of indoor bike parking at a Portland, Oregon office building by Mark Stosberg on Flickr.

Since 2000, The Community-Based Planning Task Force has been leading the effort to create a more meaningful role for communities in New York City’s planning and decision-making processes.

This blog intends to connect our Task Force and the public with opportunities to participate in shaping the city's future, and to inform about issues related to planning, decision-making, equity, social justice, and public participation.

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