Tower for Independence Plaza sketched out by developers

Ok, here goes.

Representatives from the two owners of Independence Plaza, Vornado Realty Trust and Stellar Management, took turns last night presenting their plans for a new tower on their complex at Greenwich and Jay, in the southern half of IPN called 3C. It is indeed planned to be 940 feet tall, a bizarre approach to the opportunity — and yes it is that — to develop more housing on this parcel.

They walked the Community Board 1 Land Use Committee through the math on how they reached that height (NB that all the images and renderings were part of the proposal by Vornado and Stellar). UPDATE: I had some of my numbers wrong so these are updated as per the spokesman for Stellar:

  • 97,481 square feet on the site overall
  • 58,829 sf was transferred to the north block when the existing Large Scale Residential Development (LSRD) site plan was put in place.
  • The zoning for the site allows for a 10 FAR, which means they can build 10 times the available square footage of floor area. So there is 974,810 square feet available for development MINUS the transfer, which gets us to 915,981 sf allowed without the voluntary inclusionary housing bonus.
  • 544,617 is used on the site now by the existing buildings
  • 86,483 would be removed by razing 50 vacant IPN townhouse units on the block and demolishing the vacant former school building on the upper plaza* (see footnote)
  • After the completion of those demolitions, there would be 457,857 zoning square feet available for development WITHOUT an inclusionary housing bonus.
  • There is a voluntary bonus of 2 FAR for inclusionary housing* (see footnote) so with that, there would be a grand total of 1,110,943 sf

Here it is again, in paragraph form, in case this is easier to follow: There is 974,810 zoning square feet on the site (10.0 FAR x lot area of 97,481 SF). 58,829 SF was transferred to the north block when the existing Large Scale Residential Development (LSRD) site plan was put in place. This transfer is not part of the proposed project. Subtracting that square footage leaves a total of 915,981 SF allowed without the voluntary inclusionary housing bonus. An additional 194,962 SF (2.0 FAR x lot area of 97,481 SF) can be added via voluntary inclusionary housing bonus for a grand total of 1,110,943 SF.

The existing buildings account for 544,617 SF and this project would include demolishing 86,493 SF. This leaves 457,857 SF available without the voluntary inclusionary housing bonus. Adding in the 194,962 SF that Stellar and Vornado would qualify for by providing voluntary affordable housing gets to the total of 652,819 SF available on the site.

As for the look of it, the building will be a tower on a base, and the base will conform to the property line with new retail along Greenwich. Some more details on that:

  • The architect is Morris Adjmi, whose work includes 408 Greenwich, the nine-story building on the northwest corner with Hubert (though that is a silly comp for this project!)
  • The design strategy is to “enhance the pedestrian experience and enhance the skyline with all this height” with a “thinner, taller building that will cast a thinner shadow”
  • Tribecan Signe Nielsen has been engaged to design the streetscape and the open space surrounding the tower
  • The building will be at least 60 feet from other IPN towers

The team argued that their goal is to improve the existing streetscape. (A bit disingenuous since they have left the retail spaces there largely empty for the past decade, since 2014, and since the current greenery on Greenwich is so abysmal. In fact, they even had a slide that was intended to illustrate how bad the current streetscape looks. See below.) They will keep the extra-wide sidewalks (though they were not clear on where exactly they will build the street wall to and no one asked — their property line goes to the edge of the Cocoon stroller parking fence).

They will also relocate the parking garage entrance to Harrison Street (not sure how? through the vestigial remains of Washington Street that IPN uses as a parking lot?).

There will be no formal city land use review process since they do not need to seek a zoning change. But the developers will go through an 18-month review process that includes a environmental impact study, which requires community input. They submitted the pre-application to the City Planning last June, and in October, they met with other city agencies to outline the process. They met with the councilman in October. If they stay on schedule, they would host community input meetings in summer 2024 and again in winter 2025, and would trigger the environmental impact process in spring 2025, with it wrapped up six months or so later.

A few more points that came up for the record:

  • The northern parcel, 3A, is fully developed
  • Councilman Chris Marte said for the record that he is against the project
  • The current residents of the townhouses are in negotiations with the owners to be relocated to “comparable or better” apartments within the complex. They did not say how many tenants that is, but my guess is it is less than 20 units out of the 50 they will raze.
  • The existing towers are 356 feet tall and have a total of 1323 units

Which brings us to the developer’s decision to build a 900-foot tower in Tribeca.

“To even be considering 900 feet — I can’t believe it has gotten to this place,” said CB1 member and Tribecan Tricia Joyce. “We are not against development. There is logical development, and then there is this…It is completely out of context for this neighborhood. Whether or not you are allowed to build it should not be part of our discussion. This is not the right development in this place.”

Committee members also discussed affordable housing (“No new building should ever be built without affordable housing,” noted committee member Justine Cuccia), the size, the interaction with the streetscape. Members of the public — largely residents of IPN — completely opposed the plan.

The president of the IPN senior center, John Scott, said that Independence Plaza was saved more than once by public funding, when it was not a viable real estate entity. The residents who moved there when it was built in 1975 are the ones who built it to what it is now, he noted. And now those same residents — seniors, all of them — will suffer the most from the construction project. “This will kill seniors,” he said.

Some existing rent-controlled tenants currently living at IPN said they are treated like second-class citizens now, with flooring that is nearly 50 years old and delayed repair projects. (For its part, Stellar said they replaced the elevators recently and plan to renovate the existing lobbies.) Another resident noted that Stellar does not maintain its green spaces now, and in fact cut down existing trees on Washington and Harrison.

Obviously there is a lot more to come here, but one more point to consider: the landmarked Harrison Street townhouses, which are privately owned and worth millions and are the last remaining bits of the Washington Market before the city leveled the entire six-block swath in the 1960s. One owner there worried that her wood-frame house would not survive the construction process. This has to be a serious consideration, since I can’t even imagine what the hole in the ground will look like for 900-foot tower.


* NB: the townhouses the refer to regularly are the ones that are part of Independence Plaza and have their doors at the street level on Greenwich or above on the plaza near the former PS 150. They are NOT the historic attached houses on Harrison.

* The inclusionary housing bonus allows them to either create new affordable housing in the new development OR preserve existing affordable housing somewhere else on their site. So there is every chance that they can build out the extra FAR without creating any additional affordable housing than we have now in the neighborhood.

* See the next post on what a LSRD is and how it works under the zoning code.



  1. Stella and Vornado don’t care about the neighborhood or the long time tenants at IPN. They treat them like second class citizens. They are not good people. So, what makes you think they will care about affordable housing tenants that they stated would be in the Monster tower they are planning to build. Believe me they don’t! They don’t take care of the trees on Greenwich Street, stores are empty years. They are horrible landlords! They have no regard for tenants, only money. This building should not be built 900 feet!! Stores around the area need to be notified also. Everyone should stand together. This will be unhealthy and unsafe for 310 Greenwich residents and the whole neighborhood.

  2. What an awful proposal! Way too tall!

  3. This is a very welcome development in my opinion, and completely appropriate for the neighborhood.

    This site is arguably a block north of the Financial District (depending on whose definition of Tribeca you use), which is in, you know, Manhattan. If this 900 foot tower is a “monster tower” I wonder what you think of 1WTC just 5 blocks away which is nearly double the proposed height.

    Sounds like this person isn’t really a native because all they need to do is look around and see dozens of skyscrapers taller than this…because again, this is right in the middle of Manhattan.

    If skyscrapers cause this much distress I recommend you grow some thick skin or move out of Manhattan. The City is in the midst of terrible housing shortage and we need at least 500 more of these.

    • First of all I am a Native New Yorker born and raised living here all my life. I lived through 911 and have PTSD. We who live at IPN do not want a Monster tower right on top of our building. We already have sicknesses from the lie that it was safe to live here afterward. Housing shortage? You really think it going to be affordable housing. Wake up and smell the coffee. Move into IPN and live with the construction noise and dust. But you probably don’t need to you have multiple places to go. You do not know me!

    • Every time I see your comments, FiDiGuy, I know I’m about to read something impressively, almost antagonistically, ignorant. You’ve delivered again!

      The housing shortage we have is for affordable housing. This is not that. This article says that Stellar may have no obligation to include new affordable units in this development.

      Second, there are plenty of neighborhoods that are known for their glassy towers but Tribeca never has been – and I’m not sure why anyone would want it to be. There’s something to be said for neighborhoods with distinctive character. The last 25 years has been a non-stop race to make every area of Manhattan look blandly identical. I’m picturing you in 1963 eagerly cheerleading Moses’ plan for the LOMEX (“This is completely appropriate for the neighborhood and supports the inexorable population shift from urban to suburban!”)

      And finally, the WTC site is not part of Tribeca, but the financial district, and skyscrapers have been there for 100 years. There’s a huge difference; pretending otherwise is disingenuous and once again betrays your lack of respect for what makes (made?) Tribeca a nice place to live.

    • If you are against unreasonable addition to the neighborhood, you are a NYMBY. If you complain about excessive noise, MOVE TO THE SUBURB! Here we go again.

      • R., you better believe I’m a proud NIMBY for more market rate housing for rich people. If Stellar wants to do a tower that’s mostly 60%-80% AMI units, I’d be willing to support this ugly thing.

        • “The housing shortage is for affordable housing”

          Yes, very true, but why don’t you take a look on Zillow or Streeteasy right now and see how many market rate rentals are available – say, a two bedroom for less than $6,000. There is literally ONE in all of Tribeca. Suggesting that we only have a shortage of deeply affordable units, and that market rate units only service “rich people,” is incredibly disingenuous and spoken by people that I suspect have not had to rent an apartment in this district in decades.

          If you are a two income household with no kids making $250,000 a year, you likely cannot afford to live in CB1. Are those people “rich” and therefore unworthy of any consideration in housing policy? It is absolutely insane that such a NIMBY talking point continues to get protection under the progressive umbrella when it is literally the most regressive concept one could imagine. I hate to break it to everyone, but building enough housing to ensure everyone – from the poor to the middle class – has housing that is affordable is the most progressive idea imaginable. If you have trouble with that concept, Nassau County is at your disposal.

          • I concede you make a good point, Jess, but you’re actually arguing with someone who ultimately agrees with you. My former home – Independence Plaza – was the original middle class housing in Tribeca so I obviously see the value in it.

            So allow me to amend my comment to say I’d support a 90 story tower only if it had 50% units for 60-80% AMI and the remaining 50% of units for 120%-160% AMI tenants. That will cover a large chunk of the middle class too (current AMI is approx. $140k).

            But to be clear: I have no interest in supporting any massive, sky piercing development project that houses even one additional millionaire. They have plenty of other places to choose from that don’t involve negatively impacting an entire neighborhood.

          • All fair! I’d support that development, too. But let’s be clear: that development isn’t going to happen, in large part because we don’t have policies in place to either force or incentive it to happen. That’s a problem that has to be addressed. But as for the project currently before us, it’s also important to note that even mixed income developments with many market rate units are good for the community. On the one hand, many studies show more housing supply (of any stripe) helps alleviate rents region-wide. And just as importantly, welcoming in new communities is a good thing! Take 105 Duane St., a development that was originally 80-20 and has become wildly expensive due to a lack of nearby housing supply. If proposed today, that development would be vigorously opposed by the same people opposing the IPN. But can anyone seriously say it has been a net negative for the community? It is a bustling development that supports many local businesses, has housed families that otherwise could not afford this area for decades, and welcomes tons of young families of many income levels who help to subsidize incredible amenities that can be used by all. I really struggle to see the downside brought on by this similarly large, “out of context” development that is largely market rate units. We should have more options like that in our neighborhood—it will only strengthen this great community.

  4. I also want to add that the reason the developer is going tall and skinny is no mystery. Its the same approach on billionaire’ row – tall and skinny towers maximize views for the upper unites and which increases the sales price.

    And its a good thing the City taxes expensive real estate dearly too! I’m all for building as much expensive real estate because unlike income, there is no where for these buildings to hide. I’d very much rather tax tax expensive real estate to fund city services than say middle class New Yorkers, but I suppose folks will never agree on this.

  5. Agree w FiDiGuy; the neighborhood is as sought after and as expensive as ever, and needs more housing (luxury, affordable or otherwise). And while we probably don’t need many more $10m+ units, there is still plenty of unmet demand from working professionals/families here for units priced between $2m-5m (or their rental equivalent).

    It would be been better, however, if the owners had instead attempted to re-consider the entirety of Independence Plaza all at once, as that plot could include far more housing (including guaranteed units for existing residents) and better connect the neighborhood to the riverfront with a re-opened street grid lined w retail/cafes/etc.

    • I’m puzzled by people who profess to like living here but are fine with it becoming more generic, indistinguishable from any other “high-end” area. Aside from size, scope, and price, I oppose this plan based on how mind-numbingly bland it is. Another indistinguishable box for the skyline, with a street level facade that’s like Disney Tribeca.

      Stellar was always going to try to develop this parcel within an inch of its life, whether through a plan similar to this or by waiting until all Sec. 8 and LAP tenants die and knocking the whole complex down to build again. But I’m not sure how anyone who loves Tribeca would want to see this building happen. I don’t think Tribeca’s parks, supermarkets, schools, streets can support development like this, or at least not without destroying whatever remains of what made this neighborhood special to begin with.

      • People who love Tribeca, and aren’t fortunate enough to own real estate here, want to ensure there are enough units to actually house the people who want to live there. Sure, I love the historic nature of Tribeca. But I also want there to be an apartment for me to live in long-term doesn’t cost upwards of $10k for two bedrooms.

        I’m sorry, but if you only love Tribeca so long as it suppresses housing and keeps people out, you do not love what is truly great about this city.

        • Jess, I was priced out of Tribeca by the very Stellar management that is planning this thing (after 30 years of living there and helping to build this neighborhood up from nothing, btw). So suffice to say, I’d like affordable housing in Tribeca, too. This tower is not that. What makes you think it will have un-rent regulated 2 bedrooms for less than $10k? The jenga building doesn’t. 200 Chambers doesn’t. None of the new developments in Tribeca too. Funnily enough, IPN does offer that price range but, again, that’s because they forced my neighbors out so there would be some more $6k/mo. units for newcomers. You’re welcome :)

          So it’s all negatives with this plan: more crowding at parks and schools, a huge eyesore, and no benefit to low and middle income people who live here. Baffled as to how this is a winning plan in your eyes.

      • My strong preference would be a full redevelopment of the entire IP site, rebuilt with urban design principles in mind and a mix of workforce/market-rate housing; if there’s a part of TriBeCa that is “bland” and “generic” (not to mention built to fortress-like specs to keep pedestrians out), it’s the current mid-century, grid-defying monstrosity that is IP.

        Recognizing that I don’t personally have the billions required to purchase IP and redevelop it into a transformed multi-use district w activated street-level retail, I’m quite excited to see a potential revitalization of the retail corridor along western Greenwich St, and generally in favor of more housing being built in a neighborhood that is currently as unaffordable as it gets in NYC (even for working “millionaire” families).

        There is simply no way to build only affordable housing without massive government subsidies, and while we should all certainly offer input and push for a perhaps more modestly-sized tower, the answer simply can’t be “don’t change anything now because it’s perfect as is”. The vast majority of TriBeCa is protected from development; to the extent we can build more density at the margins to permit others (including younger folks who didn’t have the privilege of buying a 3-bed in the 90s for a million bucks), we ought to do it, even if we don’t love every aspect of the design or execution.

        • @Reader on Reade – respectfully, your perspective and attitude represent everything that is wrong with Tribeca, Manhattan, New York, and the US more broadly. The only goal should be fully subsidized housing; that is exactly who needs housing the most. People like you should be grateful for your lucky lot in life and step aside for the responsible people to lead the redevelopment of Tribeca, where we lived long before you moved in. Please rethink your views. Welcome to the neighborhood.

  6. Vornado should change their name to F5, it would save a lot of ink.

  7. I have lived in Tribeca since 1981. Near me we have two unfinished residential buildings that have had not work done on them in at least 2 years. One is a very tall building.
    These super tall buildings are not good for residential areas with small buildings. They loom over the other buildings like monsters.
    Do we really have a housing crisis? If so why are these other buildings sitting unfinished? Is another sliver building really the solution. We have one near us that sat empty for a number of years once it was finished. Battery Park City is not all back. Schools there have low enrollment.
    To double to size of IP seems unnecessary. Get some of the already started buildings finished.
    So sad for our hood.

  8. Can you imagine how crowded the already over utilized Washington Market Park will be once that tower is built? Ugh.

  9. I can’t imagine anything more inappropriate and downright egregious than tearing up a peaceful residential community and building a huge tower right in the middle of it. This project is terrible for everyone, especially the residents of IPN who will suffer through years of construction noise and bad air quality if we can tolerate it. As one longtime TriBeCa resident who has helped to build this community, where most people didn’t want to live that has now become wildly desirable thanks to people like me and many other seniors living in IPN.
    This project will create years of noise which some of us already suffer from. It will create construction dust which we have no choice but to breathe. It will block light for the people, parks and gardens in the area. It will be disturbing to students trying to learn and teachers trying to teach at BMCC. It will compromise use of the piers and parks by the river. This proposed project is only good for the landlord and terrible for everyone else!!!
    Create more retail space ? Are they kidding? Our pizza restaurant, our deli and supermarket on Greenwich St. all of which have served the community for decades have all been forced to leave due to outrageous rent increases. Most of the retail spaces on Greenwich St. remain empty… and they propose building more ??!! More housing? There are apartments in IPN that have sat empty for years, so we need more?
    I truly hope that this project will NEVER come to fruition and I will be demonstrating against it.
    I truly hope that this project will be stopped

    • Dori Levine, I agree 100 percent!!!! Stella Vornado Hypocrites!! Stores forced to close for years! They do not care about tenants either!!

  10. I moved into the 310 Greenwich St. building in February 1986 and moved out shortly after 9/11. I moved to Queens and eventually purchased a house on Eastern Long Island where I presently live. Independence Plaza was originally intended to be a quasi luxury free market rent apartment complex. But during the mid 70s when the complex was just completed, too few unites were rented because TriBeCa was a “no mans land,” lacking many amenities Manhattan dwellers were accustomed to. So, in order to attract potential tenants, it became a government subsidized rental property specifically for the Middle Class under the “Mitchell Lama” rent program. During that period, other rent subsidized middle income housing was also provided under “Section 236” and still other similar rent programs. My rent back then was only $1,000 per month (for a decent sized one bedroom unit with balcony – on a high floor and with a 70° view of the Hudson River, including the Statue of Liberty, when looking towards the Southwest and West). Even garage space in the building to park my car was subsidized; I paid only $135/month. Nowadays, the only subsidized housing provided in Manhattan are for low income people (under the “80/20” rent program) or very low income people (the infamous “projects” – now called the “houses”). There is no affordable housing for the Middle Class in Manhattan anymore. Those middle income people who still want to live in Manhattan in present times must now live with someone else (roommate) or be a married/intimate couple, in either case both earning at least a middle income wage. Post 9/11, Independence Plaza was no longer a middle income residential apartment complex under Mitchell Lama. Although units rented by existing tenants in the complex are subject to a rental program very similar to rent stabilization, all tenants who signed apartment leases after the demise of Mitchell Lama now pay free market rents. The free market rent for my former apartment (26D) is now over 5K per month – and one can only imagine what the current garage rent is – in what has now turned into one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan.