Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recommended conditional disapproval of the sale of three city-owned buildings in the Civic Center area last week. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) proposed the sale as part of the City’s 21st Century Civic Center plan, which aims to relocate municipal agencies out of the partially vacant and under-utilized buildings so they can be consolidated with other agencies elsewhere.
Relocation would reduce the city’s operating and maintenance costs, saving the city an estimated $100 million in the next 20 years.
Stringer endorsed the goal of consolidation, but argued that financial considerations should not be the sole motivation for the disposition of the three buildings, which are located at 22 Reade St., 49-51 Chambers St. and 346 Broadway.
“Lower Manhattan is one of the nation’s premier central business districts, but it is also experiencing a boom in its residential population,” he said in a statement. “I believe the city should strive to provide the infrastructure necessary to support this new population.”
Stringer stressed that vacant city-owned properties provide an opportunity for the city to meet this growing Lower Manhattan need. Rather than selling to commercial developers, he said, the city could provide community-related infrastructure like public schools, affordable housing, cultural space or space for nonprofit organizations, none of which are included in the current plan. Stringer noted that these spaces would be difficult to create in privately owned properties without significant cost to New York City taxpayers.
Stringer’s review suggested several conditions for the city to meet, including the modification of the proposal to include publicly oriented uses and the creation of a community and elected official task force to review future applications.
“The Civic Center plan offers great potential benefits to our city, and I look forward to discussing it further with the administration,” said Stringer. “By working together, I believe we can simultaneously advance the goal of consolidation, realize significant taxpayer savings and consider a variety of ways to meet the needs of Lower Manhattan.”
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