Western Rail Yard Rezoning: Testimony from RPA

Western Rail Yard
On Wednesday September 9th, 2009, L. Nicolas Ronderos, Director of Urban
Development Programs for Regional Plan Association, presented a statement on the
Western Rail Yard Rezoning to express our support for the actions under review. The rail yard is one of Manhattan's largest developable parcels, bound by 33rd St. on the north, 30th St. on the south, 11th Ave. on the east and the Hudson River on the west.

The proposed actions would have an overall beneficial effect on neighborhood
character at the development site, additional housing sites, and the areas
surrounding them. As we expressed in our seminal 2004 report "Urban Development
Alternatives for the Hudson Rail Yards
", a mixed-use development on the yard is
more desirable than other options and would better connect the waterfront to the
district, promote urban development throughout the area and provide a
significantly larger rate of return for public infrastructure investments.

The project under review will provide such a new mixed use neighborhood, will generate a consistent source of income for the MTA capital plan, and provide a source of jobs and economic activity to support the long-term growth of midtown and the Hudson Yards. Construction of permanently affordable housing on the additional housing sites would support the Clinton neighborhood by emphasizing its residential character and helping to preserve its mixed-income character.

Below is Ronderos' testimony:



Statement for the Western Rail Yard Rezoning
City Planning Commission Public Hearing
by
L. Nicolas Ronderos, Director of Urban Development Programs, RPA
September 9, 2009 

My name is L. Nicolas Ronderos and I'm Director of Urban Development Programs for Regional Plan Association, a private, nonprofit research and planning organization serving the greater New York metropolitan region. 

RPA wants to comment on the Western Rail Yard Rezoning and express our support for the actions under review. The proposed actions would have an overall beneficial effect on neighborhood character at the development site, additional housing sites, and the areas surrounding them. 

As we expressed in our 2004 report "Urban Development Alternatives for the Hudson Rail Yards", a mixed-use development on the yard is more desirable than other options and would better connect the waterfront to the district, promote urban development throughout the area and provide a significantly larger rate of return for public infrastructure investments. 

The project under review will provide a new mixed use neighborhood, will generate a consistent source of income for the MTA capital plan, and provide a source of jobs and economic activity to support the long-term growth of midtown and the Hudson Yards. Construction of permanently affordable housing on the additional housing sites would support the Clinton neighborhood by emphasizing its residential character and help to preserve its mixed-income character. 

Replacing a large, underutilized, and inaccessible site with a mix of uses, open spaces and reactivating the street grid would complement the emerging development in the Hudson Yards and West Chelsea neighborhoods, and would provide a link in the system of open spaces now under development. The proposed density is consistent with the rest of Hudson Yards and will create a transition from the higher density development along 34th Street and 11th Avenue to the riverfront to the west and Chelsea to the south. 

As the EIS states, the Western Rail Yard Rezoning will succeed in meeting project goals-- It will provide much-needed funds for MTA's capital program, create a transit oriented development, accommodate anticipated population and employment growth in Manhattan, enhance the vitality of the Hudson Yards area, add to the system of public open spaces now emerging in the Hudson Yards and West Chelsea areas, help meet the need for affordable housing, and expand the City's tax base. RPA supports this project and hopes the City Planning Commission approves the application.