Last week, the New York City Council approved a special permit granting developer Glenwood Management the right to build a 400-car parking garage at 310-328 West 38th Street. The decision was not unexpected, as the permit had already been approved by the City Planning Commission earlier this month.
The garage, situated near the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, will add more traffic to the already-congested streets of Hell's Kitchen, but its approval has strengthened calls to review similar permits more carefully in the future. "There are some positives," said Christine Berthet of the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition (CHEKPEDS) in an email message. "The Borough President's office, the City Planning Commission, and the council all have special permits on their radar, and the commission indicated they are ready to do 'something about parking.' The Speaker is also interested in a long term action."
As a 2005 re-zoning leads to a surge in development around the West Side railyards, adopting stricter standards for the approval of special permits could prevent a concurrent boom in parking. The leniency of the current approval process, said Berthet, flies in the face of the city's goals for air quality and traffic reduction, and approving a flurry of permits now would saddle the neighborhood with parking facilities for years. "The special permit is like radioactive material," she said. "It remains toxic for a very long time."
Photo of traffic on 10th Avenue: SarahNYC/Flickr