North Shore car repair shops could give way to 16-story buildings, 6,000-plus residents
The de Blasio administration’s plan to rezone 45 acres of Staten Island’s North Shore aims to encourage new housing, including affordable housing, but it has some residents concerned that an influx of newcomers will strain an area of vacant storefronts.
The rezoning proposal centers on 14 blocks along Bay Street, from Victory Boulevard to Sands Street and from Van Duzer Street to the Staten Island Railway tracks. It includes five nearby city-owned lots and a two-block area around Canal Street to the southwest.
It calls for as many as 2,569 apartments (1,039 of them affordable) and 595,454 square feet of commercial space. Buildings could rise as high as 165 feet, or 16 stories.
That stretch of the Bay Street corridor is currently zoned for manufacturing and primarily comprises auto repair shops, gas stations and warehouses. More than one-fifth of its storefronts are vacant, according to media reports. This is where Eric Garner died from a police choke hold in July 2014.
Residents agree rezoning could improve the area, just south of the Staten Island Ferry terminal, but some fear the affordable housing won’t be affordable enough and warn that more residents will overburden sewers and roads.
The housing would push the residential population in the rezoned area to 6,911 from 32, and the number of people who work there could rise to 2,673 from 1,434, according to city studies.
“Has anyone researched the ancient sewer system?” asked Nicholas Scilari, chairman of the local community board. “How much flow can it handle?”
Scilari said the city has yet to adequately address this and other potential challenges. “Maybe they’re working on it, but we would just like to know about that beforehand.”
Should the rezoning move forward, it would dramatically alter the character and desirability of an area unused to property trades—and unable, in the case of 365 Bay St., to draw tenants to new development.