Site Background: 2005 Hudson Yards Rezoning

While the Western Rail Yards still has to go through ULURP (the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure), the Eastern Rail Yards (one half of the entire site) must be developed to meet pre-existing zoning requirements established in 2005. To better understand how the Rail Yards fits into the larger picture of the far West Side, it's worth looking at this 26 acres in the context of the rezoning.

The Eastern Rail Yards were rezoned as part of the 360-acre Hudson Yards Rezoning, approved by the City Council in January 2005. This massive rezoning, creating the Special Hudson Yards District, was intended to increase the commercial and residential capacity of the Far West Side between West 28th and West 43rd Streets, and Eighth and Eleventh Avenues. According to the Department of City Planning, purposes included:

  • To expand the Midtown business district to increase office space and make Manhattan more "economically competitive"

  • To anticipate the expansion of the 7 train West to 11th Avenue, and downtown to 34th Street

  • To encourage expansion of the Javits Center by the creation of a "Convention Center Corridor"

  • To make a new open-space network, including the creation of a new midblock pedestrian avenue running from 33rd to 41st Streets

  • To interact with a planned Jets football stadium on the Western Rail Yards (not part of this rezoning) related to the NYC2012 Olympic bid

More information on the Hudson Yards rezoning can be found here (DCP) and here (CB4).

So how does the rezoning affect the Rail Yards development?

The MTA's Request for Proposals for the Eastern Rail Yards (available here as a PDF) upholds the land use criteria laid out as part of the rezoned Special Hudson Yards District. This means the buildings and open space at the Eastern Yards will relate north and east, in the context of the larger Hudson Yards area (all the way up to 42nd Street). However, from an urban design perspective, the Eastern Yards site is not necessarily related to the Western Rail Yards, which was not part of the rezoning.

In fact, the Special District was created in anticipation of a major stadium on the Western Rail Yards site, an effort that was, of course, defeated later that year. Without the stadium envisioned as a monumental anchor for the Western Yards, it's easy to imagine that the Eastern Yards land use guidelines might have looked a little different. Now, instead of a stadium, the Western Yards guidelines call for residential and commercial towers with an estimated 5-6 million square feet of development, pending appoval through the City's ULURP process, as well as City and State Environmental Review. The MTA has stated that Eastern Rail Yards development will begin as soon as possible, independent of the timeline of this review.

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