Developers propose a 900-foot tower for Independence Plaza

I am hoping James helps us out here since this is above my pay grade but I am going to give it the old college try.

Councilman Chris Marte spoke to the owners of Independence Plaza two weeks ago (right after Halloween) to hear directly about their plans to build another residential tower between the two existing south of Harrison. He met with representatives of Vornado Realty Trust and Stellar Management after hearing that they will apply to the Department of City Planning for a “modification of the existing Large Scale Residential Development site plan (LSRD)” and will come before CB1 in December at the Land Use Committee meeting on Monday, Dec. 11.

Their initial plan: a 900-foot tower that would land on Greenwich at Jay, just north of 310 Greenwich — the southernmost of the three towers that make up Independence Plaza. (The other two are 40 Harrison and 80 N. Moore.) The building would be constructed atop the public plaza where PS 150 used to be, and (I think) would require the demolition of the townhouses there and on Greenwich.

A spokesperson for Stellar Management saw my original post and asked that I add this statement:

Independence Plaza’s current zoning would permit the construction of additional floor area above that existing today. Stellar Management and Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) are in the early stages of exploring a project that would create market rate and affordable housing, while making significant improvements to the streetscape, open space, and retail frontage; enabling the owners to attract businesses that better serve community needs.

Stellar and VNO are committed to working in partnership with Independence Plaza residents and the Tribeca community to ensure this project addresses those needs. The non-ULURP modification process will require preparation of a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that assesses the project’s impacts on shadows, traffic, schools, neighboring buildings, and other matters. This process will include a number of opportunities for community members and others to provide feedback.

Marte said the developers said they are still several years off — maybe five before construction starts.

“It seems like it’s in the early stages,” the councilmember said. “They are hiring a team to flesh it out a bit further. Me and my team are against this tower — we don’t need more luxury development in this area.” The developers, he said, were unclear how much affordable housing would be included.

The development is zoned as a C6-4, which permits high-bulk, high-rise, mixed-use buildings — meaning it can be both commercial and residential. C6-4 districts have a maximum FAR (floor area ration) of 10.0 or 15.0 — meaning the total area of the buildings can be 10 times or 15 times their footprint. In these districts, floor area may be increased by a bonus for a public plaza or Inclusionary (affordable) Housing. It looks like the gross floor area of the entire development — nine buildings — up to N. Moore is 2 million square feet, when you examine the city’s zoning maps. That sounds like it will add up to a LOT of buildable square footage.

Vornado Realty Trust and Stellar Management bought the towers in 2003, borrowing $575 million to turn the property into luxury rentals; Vornado now owns 50.1 percent, according to The Real Deal.

Stellar suggested to Marte that a 900-foot tower was as-of-right and would not require any significant review by the city. But he said he will challenge that, to give the community a chance at input.

“We think this will be a drastic change to the community and we want to see how it will affect Washington Market Park and the townhouses on Harrison and the side street behind the townhouses,” he said. “It’s still early — we still have a lot of questions — but we don’t think what they have proposed is allowable.”



  1. Tribeca Trib has a lot more detail on this including a rendering of a redeveloped Greenwich Street, which looks great though bulky (and purposefully excludes the tower).

    Also noteworthy is that the project architect is Morris Adjmi. He’s done fantastic contextual work throughout historic districts, including Tribeca and Meatpacking.

    This seems like a net-positive project that most of the community will get behind once the details come out, but it does raise questions re local infrastructure. That’s a lot of new residents to add to the community, putting pressure on local schools, parks, etc.

  2. I love the rendering of the new Greenwich street view. But a 900ft tower?! No. Why? Absolutely awful idea.
    Would love to see them makeover what is there though. IPN is the most hideous part of tribeca sadly.

    • Why not a 900ft tower? Heck they should double it for all I care if it helps bring the much needed housing.

      For any who thinks it’s out of character for the neighborhood I beg you to turn your head south where literally 5 blocks away is the tallest building in Manhattan.

    • IPN: “most hideous part of tribeca”? Probably

      But also the biggest concentration of mixed-income housing in Tribeca. The original democratized housing in Tribeca (Mitchell Lama). The reason why Tribeca got a supermarket, Washington Market Park, and a larger elementary school.

      This 90 foot tower will add nothing and take a lot. Stuffing more white millionaires into the zip code is the last thing we need. And at least if you’re going to do it, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the largest – possibly only! – population of Section 8 voucher recipients in Tribeca/BPC.

  3. NYC needs as much new housing as possible, both market rate and affordable. This should be built asap. The location is perfect because it is impossible to make Independence Plaza any uglier than it already is.

  4. Shame on you, Vornado, for pitting the Haves against the Have-Yachts.

  5. Why, whenever some awful development project is announced, does one then read the word Vornado. They seem to have an uncanny instinct for wanting to do exactly what ought not be done. Yes, shame on them.

  6. Incredible news for the city and I live on that block. Rents up nearly 20% year over year—with more housing in the area maybe I’ll actually be able to afford to stay living in mine. Unsuprised at Marte’s knee-jerk reaction to fight housing in an area already full of large towers; man won’t rest until every 1-bedroom in the neighborhood is $8k a month.

    • Chris, they’ve been building tons of new rental units in the area for the last twenty years. Literally thousands of new apartments have been added since 2005 (including hundreds *inside* Independence Plaza)…and rents have only gone up astronomically. The typical rules of supply/demand do not apply to luxury housing or luxury neighborhoods.

      This tower only means 1) more unattainable homes, 2) more crowded schools and amenities 3) the destruction of any last semblance of Tribeca as a quiet, community-driven neighborhood. I sure am glad I got to live here in the 80s and 90s so I got to enjoy what once was.

      • Less than 3,000 units have been built in Community District 1 since 2017. Since 2020 alone, the population has increased by FAR more than that (over 20,000 people). This isn’t tricky. If you have skyrocketing demand, which Tribeca does, and you don’t build nearly enough apartments to house that demand, prices will go up. There is only one way to deal with it: build more housing.

  7. I have little doubt that IP can find enough floor area and bonuses to build the proposed tower. The question is: Can they be forced to go through a meaningful regulatory review and political process, like ULURP? I think probably not, but we shall see. Without IP being forced to go through ULURP, our councilmember loses just about all leverage to demand changes to the project that cost the developer and benefit the community. There will likely be mere non-binding community comment and some doomed-to-fail lawsuits.

    It is not clear how the proposed IP tower, or more housing, or more luxury housing constitutes “a drastic change to the community.” There are plenty of other tall towers in this area, like WTC and 56 Leonard. The area is relatively low density. Even school enrollment is down (

    Further, the Tribeca Trib indirectly quoted the councilmember, saying “his staff is looking into the zoning for the area, which is part of the Washington Street Urban Renewal Area.” The Washington Street Urban Renewal Area was a 40-year urban renewal plan. That plan expired on January 1, 2002. The height limits applicable under the provisions of the plan expired when the plan expired. Residential towers on vacant sites on Warren and Murray Streets moved forward. Expiration of Urban Renewal plan restrictions in a given area, like nearby Two Bridges, has often led to private, market-rate development.

    The zoning here is identical to that of 56 Leonard, a tower notably built in the historically unprotected hole of the doughnut shape that is Tribeca’s Landmark districts.

    Looking more broadly, the recent nearby example of Two Bridges would not seem to bode well for would-be opponents of the proposed IP tower. Elected officials and community groups sued NYC to block the construction of the planned 70- to 100-story Two Bridges towers. Strident rulings against the City Planning Commission’s decision not to put the towers through ULURP were authored by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron (of Trump lawsuit fame). However, these were overturned on appeal all the way up to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Councilmember Marte’s follow-on lawsuit against Two Bridges under the so-called “green amendment” to the State Constitution was dismissed by the Court as “yet another ‘bite at the apple.’ ”

    The Two Bridges towers arguably constitute a far greater change to their communities than does the proposed IP tower to Tribeca. Yet the developers ultimately prevailed at Two Bridges.

  8. KM if IPN was never built even though its not the best looking area in Tribeca. Tribeca wouldn’t exist. Not sure if you know the history of this development. a diverse middle income hardworking group lived here in the 70s when no one wanted to. They fought to open PS 234 and the grocery store which was under 310.

  9. Every time I read ‘ will bring much needed housing’ I don’t know to laugh or cry. And the people that cheer them on. Tribeca these days is a wasteland of over priced pointless businesses. All the reasons that brought us down here are gone.
    Good luck with the 900 ft tower. Have fun.

  10. All for it just not so tall