With a housing crisis in NYC and many struggling to find shelter, constructing a storage facility in the UES is the least of what many residents want for the community.
In April, the Parkland Group filed demolition permits for 424 East 90th Street, the brick parking garage with the “Weprin and Glass Building” sign that currently houses an AVIS rental car garage. However, their plans have officially moved along within the Department of Buildings to build an eight-story, 104,000-square-foot storage facility.
One person who is quite angry about the incoming facility is Benjamin Wetzler, a Democratic district leader for the UES and Roosevelt Island. Wetzler, who lives across the street from the site, told Our Town that the entire street is residential and this would stick out like a sore thumb.
“Speaking as somebody who lives in the neighborhood, I really don’t want a big commercial use storage facility,” Wetzler said. “The thing that annoys me is that nobody in their right mind would say that’s the right plan for this block.”
The building’s zoning designation is C8-4, which the city describes as being “for automotive and other heavy commercial services.” This despite the fact that most of the other buildings on the block are residential.
Zoning from the 60s
According to Wetzler, this zoning originated in the 60s, where a few other blocks running across the East 90s were zoned exclusively for automotive and industrial development in order to keep the Upper East Side separated from Harlem. But no one has fixed this and Parkland is taking advantage.
Being it is as of right building they do not need to go through the arduous Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process and can have the storage facility constructed quickly with no pressure from the community.
A block that is filled with homes and a school will now be inundated with U-hauls and a developer that cares more about making a buck than providing housing, Wetzler said. Parkland could have tried to rezone, they simply didn’t want to, he added.
Wetzler is quite angry that no elected officials have taken the time to examine this zoning and attempt to change it.
One lawmaker who agrees with Wetzler and does not want a storage facility coming to the UES is Council Member Ben Kallos.
“The last thing the UES needs is more storage,” Kallos told Our Town.
The council member originally heard about this project in April when he read about it on the real estate site YIMBY and was surprised someone was planning to build a storage facility when housing is dire.
While he has not been in touch with Parkland, he would hope to sit down with them and try to convince them to rezone and construct housing. Kallos is disappointed with Parkland’s decision to create a storge facility, but understands that from a business perspective it may be more profitable.
However, between the controversial Blood Center and now this, development on the UES lately is dumbfounding, he said.
“I would say there’s something wrong on the UES,” Kallos said.
The Parkland Group could not be reached for comment.