This week, CHPC has been keeping busy. In the midst of all the news about Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement of the adAPT pilot program competition, we testified at a public hearing before the City Planning Commission regarding the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project. William R. Ginsberg Graduate Fellow Jinny Khanduja delivered testimony in favor of the project, with recommendations from our Zoning Committee for increasing the density of residential development on the proposed sites.

Read the testimony below.


of Citizens Housing & Planning Council
on the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project
July 11, 2012

CHPC enthusiastically supports the proposed development of the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area. We applaud the efforts of the City to work collaboratively toward revitalizing and developing this area by encouraging a mix of housing, vibrant commercial and retail space, and essential community uses. Development of these sites has stagnated for over 45 years, and it is to the great credit of the staff involved that the project has gained renewed momentum and that this plan reflects the future growth and potential of the area rather than the lost opportunities of the past few decades. The efforts of the agencies to actively engage the community, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and incorporate the concerns and needs of the many overlapping and conflicting interests are commendable.

CHPC’s Zoning Committee looks at development proposals and changes to the Zoning Resolution through the lens of PlaNYC’s predicted long-term growth in population, and CHPC’s own Zoning Principles, which are available on our website. In examining the Seward Park project through this lens, we believe that it has the potential to be improved, as the sites outlined for development have the capacity to accommodate even greater density of residential development than that which is proposed.

The Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area is served by two major subway stops that connect three boroughs. It appears to us to be an ideal location for high-density residential development. Ideally, we would recommend the following:

    1. The percentage of commercial development seems to us unnecessarily high. In a neighborhood that has lacked adequate housing to meet demand for many decades, we believe there is a higher need for development of housing and we would have welcomed a ratio that is more in favor of residential development.
    2. We believe that limiting the number of residential units is unnecessary, and would welcome a higher limit or removal of the limit entirely.
    3. By limiting the number of residential units overall, and requiring 50% permanently affordable units, the land use plan as it stands effectively restricts the development of smaller units for single adults. In a neighborhood with many non-traditional families and singles, we also believe that there is a greater need for housing that accommodates smaller households.

However, overall, CHPC would like to reiterate its support for this project. The Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project will provide sorely needed housing stock for the City and revitalize a neighborhood with great economic potential that has been in standstill for too many decades.  We thank you for taking the time to consider our opinion on this matter and we would like to congratulate the staff of the various agencies who worked tirelessly and collaboratively to bring about this exciting project.