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Crucial Vote on Governors Island

The City Council Land Use Committee did approve the upzoning for the southern half of Governors Island with almost no discussion on May 11. The full Council is scheduled to vote on the upzoning later this month and the Council usually affirms Committee votes.

This de Blasio administration upzoning proposal would allow 25-story buildings and 4.3 million square feet of new building bulk on what has been a precious oasis for millions of New Yorkers.

The overall vision of new development concepts by WXY architecture + urban design. Illustrative Visualization by bloomimages (The Trust for Governors Island)

Is there any chance the Council will say no and demand a new plan that requires development that respects the Island’s unique physical and visual aspects? If the Council Members paid attention to the overwhelming opposition to the plan voiced at an April 5 Land Use Committee hearing, there should be. If there was ever a place to take a stand–to say we can’t just depend on out-of-scale development to pay for public amenities, this is it.

As we testified in April, “This is public land. Other important considerations apart from financial return must be considered when planning future development there.”

Yankee Pier Plaza and Western Promenade concepts by WXY architecture + urban design. Illustrative Visualization by bloomimages (The Trust for Governors Island)

We also noted that there should be equal emphasis on new uses for the many historic buildings on the Island that remain vacant.

The Trust for Governors Island says the development is only on 33 acres and would not take away allotted park space.

But, as a recent Curbed article asked: “Can that fragile mixture of separateness and proximity–that pervasive sense of islandness–withstand a major real estate venture?”

I think we know the answer.

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