A plan to build an expanded affordable housing complex at 149 West 108th street is drawing protests from local residents, who say the neighborhood already has enough affordable housing, and the new building would be too tall.
The affordable housing proposal will be reviewed by a community board committee on Wednesday night at 6:30 pm at Booker T Washington Middle School, 103. W. 107th Street.
We reported on the first meeting about this issue here. The project involves Valley Lodge, a facility at 149 West 108th street with 92 transitional beds for people over 50, which is owned and managed by West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, and three municipal parking garages owned by HPD.
In the plan, Valley Lodge and the two city garages immediately adjacent would be demolished and rebuilt as one super-structure with a total of 110 transitional beds, 78 affordable housing units, and 115 units of supported living. WSFSSH is looking for a zoning variance to build as high as 11 stories.
Among the largest concerns at that meeting was the destruction of the garages, where parking spots are more affordable than at most neighborhood garages.
People from a new group called Save Manhattan Valley say the parking issue is ancillary to larger concerns. They are planning to protest and speak out at the meeting. They say the proposed 11-story building is too tall in a neighborhood zoned for structures that are seven stories or less. And they say in a release sent out by a public relations firm that there’s already too much affordable housing and shelters in that area.
“Manhattan Valley is already home to close to 50% of the affordable housing on the Upper West Side. This is more than its fair share requirement of affordable housing–and this statistic does not include temporary shelters and dozens of residential social-service support programs in the neighborhood.”
The full explanation of the group’s concerns is below:
►ZONING: The proposal by WSFSSH for an 11-story building violates the R8B protective zoning law, which limits all new construction to seven stories on small side streets north of W 96th St. That law, which Manhattan Valley’s then City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito fully endorsed, has not been violated since it passed City Council in 2007. If the zoning variance is granted, it sets a dangerous precedent for all future construction in our community.
►FAIR SHARE: Manhattan Valley is already home to close to 50% of the affordable housing on the Upper West Side. This is more than its fair share requirement of affordable housing–and this statistic does not include temporary shelters and dozens of residential social-service support programs in the neighborhood.
►ENVIRONMENT: Booker T Washington and large playing fields are directly across the street from the proposed construction, exposing the children and staff to all manner of hazardous toxins. Bill 420, which provides protection from all such hazards (and may advance from a distance of 75 feet to 200 feet) is in the works, but not yet passed. Before the City Planning Department certifies the project, a full environmental review should be made available to the Manhattan Valley community, including the schools’ parents and educators, for study and review.
►LOSS OF GARAGES: The three 108th Street garages provide affordable parking for 800 cars belonging to residents, neighborhood merchants, the Central Park Medical Unit ambulances (space free of charge), St. Luke’s Hospital workers, Columbia University staff and visitors, and others. They have been serving Manhattan Valley’s lower-income and middle-class families, and surrounding businesses for 30+ years. With little street parking available, and highly prohibitive costs at the few privately owned garages, the loss of 800 parking spaces will be devastating to these populations as well as to all those currently parking their cars on the streets. Competition for parking is already increased due to bike lanes and CitiBike ports. Hundreds of additional cars circling streets in search of parking will increase noise, traffic, double-parking, and will harm the quality of life of Manhattan Valley residents.
►ETHICS: WSFSSH, which has over 20 facilities in two boroughs, has never demolished an essential community resource to construct a new facility. Save Manhattan Valley finds it unacceptable that WSFSSH for the first time is endorsing removal of such a resource, without community approval, thereby establishing another dangerous precedent.
“Not only have the City of New York & the West Side Federation for Senior & Supportive Housing failed to collaborate with the Manhattan Valley community about this project: they have come up with a plan that pits deserving constituencies against each other. The City & WSFSSH must cooperate with our community to create a plan that leaves no one out in the cold,” says Glory Ann Kerstein.