SGCA Land Use Committee
NY Wheel & related waterfront development

St. George waterfront development

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Former Mayor Bloomberg's announcement

Community Board 1 Land Use Committee Resolution of June 2, 2013 on waterfront developments

MOTION:  Observation wheel, hotel, catering facility, outlets.
Whereas, it is extremely important that all applications are approved to utilize and develop the St. George Waterfront to attract tourists, service community residents and be an economic benefit to all,

Be it Hereby Resolved that:  Community Board #1 approves the St. George Waterfront Redevelopment Application Nos. C130315 ZMR, C 130317 ZSR, C130318 ZSR, C130319 PPR and C 130320 PPR with the following conditions

A)      All plantings are low growing to allow view corridors.

B)      Both operators provide off-site parking (beyond interim construction) with shuttle service to    meet demands for all users during peak utilization.

C)       All parking rates be at existing market rate or lower and any future increase be subject to review and approval by Community Board #1

D)     Priority should be given to members of the NYC Building Trades, Staten Island businesses, organized, unorganized, woman and minority workforce for all aspects of construction and, include a project labor agreement with NYC Building Trades by BOTH developers.
Be it further resolved that:  100% of the monies collected for rent by both projects by the New York City Economic Development Corporation be used to fund and maintain the following improvements:

1.        Smart Lights throughout the corridor from Bay Street Landing/Richmond Terrace Corridor and its feeder roads;   Victory Blvd., Jersey Street, Nicholas Avenue, Bank Street,  Hill Street, Wall Street etc.
2.       Widen and reconfigure Richmond Terrace including a bike lane.
3.       Both Developers widen Bank Street from Richmond Terrace including a bike lane (Per FDNY)
4.       24 hour 7-day a week ½ hour Ferry Service
5.       Create and secure a continuous coastal restoration and protection along the north and east shore from Ft. Wadsworth to the Goethals Bridge.
6.       The North Shore Greenway Trail – Fully funded and completed from Ft. Wadsworth to the Goethals Bridge, to include safe and secure waterfront access, pathways, lighting benches, signage etc.
7.       Fixing the promenade at Bay Street Landing – Removal of all the pilings from Hurricane Sandy, restoration and protection.
8.       An HOV lane that would accommodate a north shore rubber wheel trolley along Richmond Terrace to the Bayonne Bridge
9.       Improve the St George Ferry Terminal circulation by having all riders disembark through the north side of the terminal during the hours of 10am and 4pm daily so that the separation of tourists from commuters can occur easily with tourists being drawn to the north through the glass doors leading to the Empire Outlets/Wheel/Promenade and commuters being drawn south toward public transportation options.
10.   Improve the St. George Ferry Kiss and Ride St. George Ferry Terminal by removing the fence, security booths and ferry worker parking and placing a sidewalk with security bollards and planting within a 15 foot buffer surrounding the ferry maintenance facility and also build a sidewalk connecting the existing sidewalk that is cut off by the current security fence that encompasses a private parking lot and the Ferry Maintenance Facility.  That sidewalk should continue through the property and into the former Coast Guard/Triangle Equities Site to connect with the Bay Street Landing Promenade.  This sidewalk should have lighting, seating, planting and security bollards (especially as it passes the Ferry Maintenance Facility) in order to provide a double layer of protection.  What was once private parking for Ferry Maintenance Facility should then be used as public parking space.  All security booths should remain within the 15 foot buffer for the Ferry Maintenance Facility.  Signage should be installed encouraging visitors to see the public plaza and fishing pier and other attractions that will come with the development of the former Coast Guard/Triangle Equities site.
11.   Deck over the remaining parking lot and train tracks adjacent to the bus ramps to create more public access and space and,
12.   Provide a (Kiosk) for Department of Cultural Affairs to encourage use of and access to Staten Island Cultural and recreational institutions (Snug Harbor Cultural Center Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, SI Zoo, Etc.)


SGCA Resolution of May 30, 2013 on Waterfront developments

At a duly held meeting of the membership of the St. George Civic Association on May 30, 2013, the following resolution was adopted by a vote of 18 in favor and 13 opposed:

The St. George Civic Association (SGCA) supports the waterfront developments -- the North Site New York Observation Wheel (Wheel) and the South site Empire Outlets Retail Development (Outlets) -- contingent on mitigation of some of the unfavorable impacts the developments would have on the community.

(1) The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) fails to meet concerns regarding traffic management. The DEIS leaves some of the traffic issues as unmitigated and others as resolved by changing the timing of traffic lights and adding turn lanes. We feel that these solutions do not adequately address the increased traffic that will result along Richmond Terrace, Bay Street and other secondary streets. Traffic issues must be addressed by using Front Street as a viable alternative to Bay Street; providing off-site parking along Front Street or in other areas and providing shuttle buses to the Wheel and Empire Outlets. DOT needs to investigate the feasibility of increasing the lanes along Richmond Terrace, Bay Street, and Front Street.

(2) Staten Island public transportation needs to be enhanced by restoring the North Shore Rail Road or using the North Shore Rail Road right of way as a dedicated bus roadway.

(3) The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) fails to meet concerns regarding overcrowded ferry service and increased ferry loading times. This can only be mitigated by increased ferry service including the guarantee of at least half hour service provided 24 hours, seven days per week.

(4) The proposed hotel, although improved in its orientation from earlier plans, still remains out of scale with the waterfront. The hotel should be made lower and longer to reduce its height. Additional entrances and elevators could be developed to reduce the amount of walking required by guests.

The SGCA welcomes responsible development of our waterfront areas, especially those that integrate with the neighborhood and provide both access and waterfront views from along Richmond Terrace. SGCA supports the concept of the Wheel and the Outlets and the prospects of the existing parking lots being turned into amenities attractive to visitors as well as the local community. If adequate provisions are made for our traffic, public transportation, ferry service, and quality of life concerns, the St. George Civic Association can support these developments. If in the Final Environmental Impact Statement these concerns are not adequately provided for, SGCA will be unable to provide support for the developments.


Report of the May 6th
Community Board 1 Land Use Committee meeting

CB1 Land Use Committee held another meeting on the St. George Waterfront projects on May 6th. Richard Marin spoke for the Wheel. BFC Partners, involved with the hotel and shop development, were not there.

The date the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is expected to be certified is May 20th.  On that date or three days before that it should be posted on the City Small Business Services (the lead agency) web site.  The Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) process then runs for 6 months. 

The CB 1 Land Use Committee plans to hold a hearing on June 3rd at the Brighton Heights Church, and make a recommendation. The Community Board itself would vote on June 3 (before their two-month summer recess). It then goes to the Borough President, City Planning and the City Council.  Each of those will hold hearings. At hearings individuals and groups can express opinions, suggesting things that can be done by the City to mitigate any negative impacts.

Richard Marin reported on seven items.
1. Unmitigated impacts. The draft EIS will report that impacts on traffic at Richmond Terrace and the ferry (cars and buses) and Richmond Terr. at Hamilton will be unmitigated.  Also the impact on ferry boats loading and unloading will be unmitigated. This will add to the conclusion that additional ferry service is necessary.
2. Esplanade & Bank Street:  Bank street is being widened from the 911 Memorial to Jersey Street to accomodate the Fire Department.
3. Signage:  There will be "way finding" signage. The Wheel and the paths will be open from 6AM to Midnight.
4. Site Plan and reduced massing:  There is still the possibility of the height on wheel side to be reduced by 10 feet. The tower for the utilities is being redesigned.
5. Landscaping and outdoor features: There will be over 243 native trees.  There will be a 14,000 square feet of children's park including water features.  The pathways will include seating.
6. Shuttle Bus: There will be shuttle bus service from the garage entrance 24 X 7.
7. Lighting: The Xenon Lighting has been taken out of the plan.  In order to have Federal Aviation Administration compliance there will need to be some warning beacon lighting on the Staten Island side of the wheel.

--David Goldfarb

Report of the April 1st
Community Board 1 Land Use Committee meeting

The Community Board 1 Land Use Committee meeting on Monday, April 1st, focused on the presentation to be made later this month by the outlet stores and hotel project before the Public Design Commission.  John Kilcullen and I both attended from the SGCA.

The project is being worked on by BFC Patners, SHop Architects, Lee Weintraub Landscape and V+B Architects (as local architects). It is now called Empire Outlets.  The project plans 488,000 total square feet composed of retail: 340,000 sf, catering: 18,000 sf, hotel (200 rooms): 130,000 sf.

The main change from previous plans is that the hotel has been oriented perpendicular to the harbor and Richmond Terrace, above one of the buildings with retail stores.  It will rise nine stories (three stories retail stores, and 6 stories hotel).

Plans call for a number of view corridors between the buildings containing the stores which are above the parking garages.  The corridors are to be accessible from Richmond Terrace and run down to a walkway leading to the Ferry terminal.

An access road for DOT along the water is planned, and a public plaza in addition to the public corridors, for a total of three acres of open public space.

Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) certification is due to begin in April. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be available soon and posted on the EDC web site.  The plan is to break ground in the first quarter of 2014, with construction lasting 36 months, ending the fourth quarter of 2016.

John asked about views both from the ferry and from public buildings like Borough Hall, observing that the re-orientation of hotel is important.  Some at the meeting questioned it, but when the architects fully described it and showed renderings it clearly would be less obstructive than if it were parallel to Richmond Terrace.

John's questions regarding the obstructed view arose from the fact that, although there will be a view corridor down to the harbor from Paulo Park (between Borough Hall and the courthouse), waterfront and city views from the courthouse steps and Borough Hall plaza will be obstructed by the new outlet center. 

And he noted that the wonderful Staten Island cityscape view from the ferry will be partially obstructed -- this is the view featured on the index page of our website. Most of the CB1 members aren't concerned but John questioned the disconnect effect of the two sides of Richmond Terrace.  He also pointed out that with the Wheel and outlet stores as proposed, the two projects, along with the current stadium, will create a street wall blocking waterfront views from Nicholas Street to the ferry terminal; corridor views will exist only where streets end.

      -- David Goldfarb, with contributions from John Kilcullen

Report of the March 4th
Community Board I's Land Use Committee meeting

I have been attending the CB1 meetings on the St. George Waterfront Developments on behalf of the St. George Civic Association, and on March 4th attended the meeting of the CB1 Land Use Committee. Here are some notes from the meeting. Mostly it was a slide presentation by Richard Marin of the Wheel Project on what he is planning to present to the City Public Design Commission (PDC). After the PDC considers the project, the Environmental Impact Statement should be released near the begining of April. This will begin the official ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Process) around April 22nd. The meeting last night did not discuss the Outlet Mall project.

There will be 120,000 SF "building" with parking for 963 cars and 5 acres of green space on the roof. It will contain a 16,000 SF Sustainability Expo and a "Five Borough" Food Court. The "Sunset Walk," 2 plazas and a lookout will rise 72-73 feet (40-45 feet above Richmond Terr.). The Stuyvesant View Corridor will be the only view corridor maintained through the wheel project. There will be bike paths, walking paths and more access between Richmond Terr. and the waterfront than now exists. There will be wood decking on the paths (like nature trails); There will be a 14,000 SF playground with many features including water features. There will be an array of photovoltaic cells and a wind farm (vertical windmills), behind 4 foot fencing.

There will be a ramp off Richmond Terr. at Nicholas St. to Bank St. It will have a 45 car reservoir for parking so cars won't back up on Richmond Terr. The 965 parking spaces will have 600 self park spaces and365 valet or managed spaces. There will be a Mechanical/Electrical Tower (near Richmond Terr. on the North side of the wheel project near the baseball stadium) It will be 100 feet tall (70 feet above Richmond terr.). It looked like a large egg standing on its end. It contains the electrical and mechanical equipment necessary for the wheel.

The legs of the wheel will be tubular steel. The cars (gondolas) will be fixed to the wheel (stationary) and the floors inside each car will float as the wheel turns. Marin explained the construction phases for the wheel. Behind the wheel will be Zenon lighting shining into the night sky in a fan shape (similar to the light beams that were the World Trade Center memorial). They will be visible from Brooklyn, Battery Park and New Jersey. It is designed to draw attention to the wheel. Zenon lighting causes very little ambient light. It will be less visible from the Staten Island side.

The starting level for all the buildings will be at +12 ft. (Bank Street is +7). This is 4 ft. over the old flood zone and one foot over the new flood level.

Here are some answer to questions:
During Construction there will be temporary parking for 820 cars on site (stacked and managed parking).
The normal wheel cycle is 38 minutes; you could get someone down from the top in 5 minutes in an emergency.
Construction will be by Gotham Construction Company which will use all union labor.
Hours of operation for the site will be opening at 10AM; closing in winter at 10PM; summer at midnight; later on Special occasions. The wheel ride will be an average of $20 and they expect 11,000 to 12,000 people on an average day.

                                               -- David Goldfarb


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