City Council Land Use Vote May 11, 2021

Today the City Council Land Use Committee approved a severely inadequate set of modifications (see below) to the fiscally and environmentally irresponsible Governors Island rezoning proposal. These council members have set themselves up for a legacy to be known to usher a “Penn Station 1963 2.0” where a precious public jewel is greedily devoured at the taxpayers’ expense.

Details aside, the issue here is – what is Governors Island going to be? Will it be an irreplaceable one-of-a-kind green urban refuge that essentially functions as a park – even in areas with buildings which provide for the arts and environmental educational projects? Or another high-rise, high-density commercial urban district with boxed in value-added landscaping in a floodplain? Today’s approved modifications will not prevent the latter. The 200 ft plus heights proposed by the Council are three times the height of Lookout Hill on the South Island while many solid historic buildings lie unused. Any new construction should be kept to minimum and not exceed the four-story height of buildings in the historic district.

As Paul Graziano – long time NYC Urban planner and land use and zoning expert said at a May 6th M.A.G.I.C. press conference,

“There is no question that the rezoning application put forth by the Governor’s Island Trust is frankly an overdevelopment scheme in search of a plan. In the more than two decades that I have been involved in planning issues in New York City, I have never encountered such a brazen attempt by any entity – public or private – to essentially steal this amount of public land and hand it over to the equivalent of a phantom organization. The Trust refuses to show its financials, has no development partner and continues to push for the privatization of one of the crown jewels of public land in New York City, or anywhere in the United States for that matter. There are no planning principles being discussed here, only the utter degradation of a cherished and irreplaceable public asset by the de Blasio administration and the Mayor’s handpicked members who control the Trust. The City Council has an obligation to protect the public good against what can only be described as a landgrab against itself and either demand that this application be withdrawn or, barring that, just vote NO. Our city – and Governor’s Island – deserves better.”

M.A.G.I.C. thanks Council Member Inez Barron for voting no and stating for the record that this plan “is a disservice to maintaining really open space and preserving the environment.”

M.A.G.I.C. has a better plan at


All items on the agenda were “coupled” meaning  that members voted on all about a dozen proposals at once but had the option to separated some out as Inez Barron did.

y = yes on all

– Rafael Salamanca Jr. (Chair) y
– Carlina Rivera [not present]
– Diana Ayala y
– Kevin Riley y
– Oswald Feliz y
– Vanessa L. Gibson y – Explain vote. Highbridge item. Senior housing and social services etc
– Ruben Diaz, Sr. y
– Peter Koo y
– Francisco Moya y
– Barry Grodenchik y
– I. Daneek Miller [not present]
– Adrienne E. Adams y
– Selvena N. Brooks-Powers y – Explain vote. Concerns with the development of GI. Reducing or not having enough open space. I think we all recognize how valuable our open space real estate is, especially in a city like NY during this pandemic. Developing on that island should prioritize maintaining our open space, our access to open space
– Stephen T. Levin y
– Antonio Reynoso y
– Inez Barron – VOTES NO ON GI. Explains 2 items, Brooklyn etc. downtown Brooklyn dev displaces etc. Giving Governors Island to private developers without a requirement that certain conditions be met is a disservice to maintaining really open space and preserving the environment.”
– Mark Treyger y
– Joseph C. Borelli y

The modifications from Chin:
Capping Aggregated floor area to 3.775M sq ft. Full build out of floor area in the southern sub-district area only with the provision of use groups 3 and 4, community facility uses – exclusive of [___??] diagnostic and treatment health facilities. Cap hotel and office space use in the southern sub-district, limit permitted obstruction in an open-space subarea to no more that 20%. And some obstruction will be included in the aggregated floor area calculations. Prohibit CPC authorization to increase allowed use the open space subarea. “Significantly” reduced building heights to 200 ft or below except for one parcel at 225 ft. Change bulk rules to match reduced base heights and require bicycle parking in accordance with applicable zoning, and for uses not specified in zoning at a rate of 1 per 10,000 sq ft of floor area.