Zoning In (Again): Will Re-Zoning West Clinton Drive Prices Up?

North Tribeca Zoning ProposalRecently, New Construction Manhattan pondered the effects of the Department of City Planning’s rezoning proposal for North Tribeca. We asked whether or not prices would go down as new construction would be more readily approved, and our cop out prediction was that we had no particular answer. And while that may hold true for the next neighborhood we want to analyze, there are some general trends that are of particular interest.

Closely related to Chelsea, Clinton (and you can make as many puns about those names as you’d like) is a rapidly-developing neighborhood stretching from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River from 42nd Street to 59th Street, a subsection of Midtown West. Whereas the former is now largely mixed-use, with a particular emphasis on balancing residential and commercial growth, that has made the transition from manufacturing, the latter is currently in an identity crisis. For the most part zoned for manufacturing and low-density residential, the recent high-rise condo boom, which has produced the Hudson Hill Condominiums, Orion, The 505, and The Atelier among others, as well as the proposed redevelopment of the Hudson Yards to the south have made, at least in the minds of the folks at the Department of City Planning, re-zoning a necessity in this about-to-explode neighborhood.
Roughly bounded by the Hudson River, 55th Street, halfway between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, and 43rd Street, the West Clinton rezoning area seeks to transform one of Manhattan’s last wholly manufacturing areas to a mix of residential, commercial, and small manufacturing. With a particular emphasis on affordable housing, or as close to that as Manhattan will ever get, the Department hopes that it can spur development along this stretch of riverfront, filling in the last gap along the West Side.
To do this, the Department proposes to change the type of manufacturing district that currently sits west of Eleventh Avenue from a mix of M1-5, M2-3, and M3-2 to M-4, or in normal English, almost tripling the possible floor-area ratio (FAR, the total floor space divided by plot area) for manufacturing and commercial space. In addition, the zoning amendment would extend R8, essentially high-density residential, so that it almost encroaches onto Eleventh Avenue, bringing new development closer to what would become a burgeoning commercial corridor if the proposal is passed. In addition, bonuses are available to increase the FAR for any residential complex that includes permanent affordable housing, although this is strictly optional. The Department hopes that developers will decide to take advantage of these deals in land-scarce Manhattan and lower the burden that renting has become on the island.

Although relatively minor, these changes will allow for far more offices, shops, restaurants, and residential buildings in the West Clinton area, in turn increasing its desirability. Whereas North Tribeca was initially expensive and development would reduce the overall cost of housing according to basic supply and demand, West Clinton has little to no base price, thereby driving prices up. Although this may initially displace some small businesses, it may very well have a spillover effect that should make West Clinton not necessarily the new Chelsea, but a trendy and sought-after neighborhood in its own right.