Message from Alan Kersh, ERFA President



As you know, when ERFA’s re-zoning application was certified by the City Planning Commission (CPC) in June 2017, the Department of City Planning (DCP) expressed numerous “concerns.” It became clear to ERFA’s leadership and our elected officials that ERFA’s application faced likely rejection by the City Planning Commission (CPC) if it were to be brought to a vote. Following public feedback from CPC Chair Marisa Lago illustrating a path forward, ERFA submitted a new application to DCP in September, which was certified by CPC on October 2nd. ERFA’s original, related application, about which DCP had raised concerns, has been withdrawn.

At the CPC’s public meeting on October 4th, CPC approved calendaring ERFA’s new rezoning application for public hearing at its upcoming public meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. on October 18th at Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street, New York, NY. Members of ERFA’s leadership and our elected officials will be attending and speaking at that meeting.

In a nutshell, ERFA’s new zoning amendment will require all new residential buildings that are constructed in the rezoned area (north of 51st Street to 59th Street, east of First Avenue) to conform to “tower-on-a base” rules (TOB), irrespective of whether the building has wide street or narrow street frontage.

Specifics of the text amendment that will soon be voted on by CPC can be found by going to the following link:

The tower-on-a-base (TOB) so-called packing rules that normally apply to the avenues and wide streets were modified to provide, among other things, that at least 45 percent of the total floor area permitted on the zoning lot must be located in stories located either partially or entirely below a height of 150 feet. TOB also imposes rules and limitations on a developer’s ability to assemble air rights through the use of zoning lot mergers.

Under the new application, developers are eligible to receive bonus FAR by utilizing the bonus structure currently in place under the 1987 Inclusionary Housing program for R10 zoned districts.

Under ERFA’s new zoning application, new buildings will be constructed with livable heights and contextual street fronts. The resulting building heights will likely be taller than what was proposed in ERFA’s earlier application but significantly shorter than what development under the current R10 rules would permit if the existing zoning remained in place.

The district map was adjusted slightly from the original application. The new Application covers the area north of 51st Street up to the south side of 59th Street, east of First Avenue. Previously, the application excluded portions along the south side of 59th Street with commercial overlays or commercial equivalent zoning.

The re-zoning is pro development. It is not a downzoning. Density will remain at 10 FAR with the opportunity to expand that to 12 FAR with the creation of affordable housing.

Utilizing TOB rules will prevent out-of-scale development that could be built under the current R10 zoning.

ERFA’s justification — and mission — continues to be to right the wrong of an aberration in the 1961 zoning law which allowed unlimited building heights on the side streets of our community. The new zoning plan will block the development of megatowers in the East River Fifties.

Following discussion at CPC’s meeting on October 18th, it is anticipated that the City Planning Commissioners will vote on ERFA’s application at their next meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. on November 1st at 22 Reade Street, New York, NY.

Upon receiving a vote of approval by CPC, the Application will then go to the City Council where it will be voted on at its meetings in mid-November.

After almost three years, we look forward to seeing you at the finish line.  Our work is not done until the rezoning amendment is passed by the City Council and becomes law.  ERFA still needs the professional expertise it has assembled to support this application right up to the vote.

As we look at this final stretch of our rezoning effort, we need your help.  We have worked to protect this entire neighborhood and hope we can count on you to join us by making a financial contribution.  Click here to do that now.


Alan Kersh, President

East River Fifties Alliance

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