Historic Preservation Committee
The Historic Preservation Committee of the City Club of New York addresses issues of city-wide importance. Our concerns include preservation law – how it is applied; threats to its efficacy – and preservation policy, including but not limited to the functioning of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The committee works with other city-wide and local preservation organizations to further its goals.
Jeffrey A. Kroessler, chair
Urban Design Committee
The Urban Design Committee of the City Club of New York explores matters involving the programmatic and spatial synthesis of our civic commons. The committee identifies underlying issues that hinder or help the process by which our urban environment evolves and it comments on particular projects or proposals as a way of explicating the general issues.
Much of the work of the Urban Design Committee is being done by working groups. Matters that need to be addressed include the need for three dimensional analysis in the preparation of neighborhood plans, the range of tools beyond zoning that are useful in shaping a community’s future, the sources of funding that can be used for public improvements, and how best to recruit all who should be interested in the future of our public realm.
If you are interested in participating in this journey please contact John West at email@example.com.
Typically each working group focuses on a general issue; so far only one working group has been focused on a singular project.
- MIH (Mandatory Inclusionary Housing) Working Group: The City is in the process of rezoning numerous neighborhoods to selectively increase density and concurrently use the increased residential density to justify mapping mandatory inclusionary housing. This group was interested in ways to illustrate the formal consequences of increased bulk as well as the programmatic implications of increased density. We were also interested in exploring how MIH might be justified in high-density, high-market areas without substantial increases in bulk, particularly without an increase in the State Multiple Dwelling Law limit on residential density.
- POPS (Privately Owed Public Space) Coalition: POPS are a significant portion of the public realm, particularly in the more densely developed parts of the city. How can they be better designed and better maintained? Do the recent zoning changes along Water Street in Lower Manhattan and in East Midtown show a public policy becoming adverse to POPS? This working group is augmented by representatives of other groups with an interest in POPS in order to better understand local concerns and to more broadly voice recommendations. (See Water Street POPS on the Projects page for documents on the rezoning along Water Street and the proposal to close the arcade at 200 Water Street.)
- TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Working Group: Using zoning to raise money for purposes other than “density ameliorating amenities” may be seen as zoning-for-dollars and a misuse of government’s police power. A better approach seems to be to use the taxing power and tax increment financing seems to be a useful alternative, although it raises issues of dedicated funds versus the general fund.
- Air “Rights” Working Group: Air rights is the zoning floor area allowed on a zoning lot but not built on that zoning lot. In most cases this potential density is realized by building a larger building on the zoning lot or by merging the zoning lot with an adjacent lot and building a larger building on the adjacent lot. In some cases the unused floor area is transferred to a site across the street or even more remotely through a special permit or a special district. Our main concern is that the benefits of the protected building and its associated light and air are shared by the same neighborhood that absorbs the burdens of the increased density and bulk of the transferred zoning floor area.
- East Midtown Working Group: We have followed and commented on the series of proposals to rezone East Midtown starting near the end of the Bloomberg administration, continuing with the Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning and the special permits for One Vanderbilt, the East Midtown Steering Committee co-chaired by Councilmember Dan Garodnick and Borough President Gale Brewer, and most recently with the rezoning of East Midtown adopted in August 2017. (See East Midtown Rezoning on the Projects page for posted documents.) East Midtown illustrates three of the general issues – POPS, TIF, and Air “Rights” — being addressed by other working groups.
The City Club, in partnership with Pratt Institute, has launched an initiative to address the need for protecting New York City’s manufacturing base. This effort focuses on the manufacturing sector’s role in the economy, opportunities for growth and job creation, its vulnerability to real estate pressures and economic forces, and its relationship to the residential market. The City’s push for zoning changes aimed at opening manufacturing districts to affordable housing, despite recent industrial growth after many years of decline, lends urgency to this topic. In this context we have organized a Manufacturing Working Group to connect with people who are interested and experienced in these issues and can collaborate on a policy agenda. We hope to influence policy makers to understand that rezoning industrial land really does affect the city’s economic base and that the resulting job losses have significant negative social impacts. For more information, click here.