Governors Island upzoning on its way to City Council vote

The City Council’s Land Use Committee approved the upzoning for the south end of Governors Island — a move that would pave (literally) the way for 4.3 million square feet of development on 34 acres of the island. The full council votes today on the committee’s recommendations.

I am kind of stunned that this is the way Governors Island is moving forward. It makes Hudson River Park’s commercial nodes (the Chelsea Piers, Circle Line, parking at Pier 40) look like mom-and-pops. But the intention is the same: to find a reliable funding stream for the park part of the island. In its response to the proposal late last year, CB1 asked the Trust for Governors Island for a justification of the size of the development in the form of financial modeling. As far as I know they did not get a reply. They replied as part of this presentation, that notes that the current cost of running the island is $20 million, projected at $78 million by 2050; the development could produce up to $126 million by 2050. (see below)

After the Land Use Committee’s discussion, the building heights have gotten smaller — from 300 feet to 225 — but the density and the sprawl remains. And 22-story buildings are certainly nothing familiar to the tone or the experience on Governors.

The council’s approval will allow for commercial uses including, but not limited to, hotels, restaurants, retail, galleries and related uses that are “compatible with the educational, cultural and recreational uses of the island.” (You will be happy to hear that there will be no automobile supply stores or drive-in banks, and oddly also no orthopedic appliance stores, sewing machine stores or typewriter stores, because then hoards of people would be taking their typewriters over to Governors to get them fixed.)

The area also must be publicly accessible, with pedestrian paths moving through the 34 acres, which has a piece set aside for open space. This has reminded me all along of Cornell Tech Hub at Roosevelt Island (see pic below), but it will be taller and bulkier. The reso also clears the way for more ferries, but NOT for gambling boats; photographic or motion picture production studios; and radio or television studios.

The reso also requires that CB1 be given a 45-day comment period for any establishment that’s more than 7500 square feet.

As far as height and bulk, the reso requires that the buildings get smaller as they go up — above 125 feet they can only cover 30 percent of the allowed floor area. Again, the max height is now 225, and if I am reading the chart correctly, that is above the “base plane,” which is 12 feet.




  1. it’s sad but inevitable. i’ll always cherish the time i spent on governor’s island before greed took over…

  2. No.

  3. The worst. Ugh.

  4. Not cool. All in the name of money.

  5. The vultures have descended. Another sad day.

  6. And if people had only emailed and called Council Member Chin it might have been different.

    People voted yes because she did.

  7. It is a sad day for NYC. It goes against the whole purpose that NYC was given the island. MONEY WINS & PEOPLE LOOSE

  8. Hell to the friggin’ NO!