900-Foot Apartment Tower Proposed For Tribeca's Independence Plaza

Sketches of the proposed tower show its 900-foot height in relation to the current 39-story Independence Plaza high-rises. Image obtained by The Tribeca Trib

Nov. 13, 2023

Update: Nov. 14, 2023: This article includes statements to the Trib provided by a Stellar Management spokesperson after the story was first posted. 

Developers are proposing a 900-foot residential tower for Tribeca.

The skyscraper, which would be the tallest building in the neighborhood, is proposed for the site of what is now a second-floor plaza within the Independence Plaza complex, on the north side of the 39-story 310 Greenwich Street tower and more than twice its height. Tribeca’s current tallest tower is 56 Leonard Street, the 821-foot-high so-called Jenga building.

City Councilman Christopher Marte, who met with representatives from the developers, Vornado Realty Trust and Stellar Management, confirmed the building’s proposed height to the Trib, saying “we have doubt that they can actually build that big and in the scope that they want.” Marte said his staff is looking into the zoning for the area, which is part of the Washington Street Urban Renewal Area.

In a statement to the Trib, a Stellar Management spokesperson said “current zoning allows for a significant amount of square footage that is not currently being used.” The amount of square footage was not mentioned.

The developers say the project is “as of right” and can sidestep the city’s rigorous land use review process, known as ULURP. Instead, they would apply for a far less demanding “minor modification” to the zoning requirements. “But we think this is a major modification to the community, not only the size and scope but to the whole neighborhood,” said Marte, whose Council vote in a ULURP process would be key to the project’s approval. 

“I think it’s going to drastically impact BMCC and Washington Market Park, so we’re going to be pushing for a proper ULURP process,” Marte said.

The tower would be designed by Morris Adjmi with landscape design by Signe Nielsen. Both architects are well-known for other projects in the neighborhood. They declined to comment for this article. In a letter to CB1, William Eng of Stellar Management wrote, “We believe this project would enable IP to better serve the neighborhood and provide much needed housing, including some that would be permanently affordable.” He added, “Our top priorities include adressing the needs of current IP residents and improving the interface of IP with the neighborhood to better serve the surrounding community.

According to one source, the developer envisions 10% of the units to be offered at below-market rates. Marte said the amount of proposed affordability remains unclear, as does the potential impact of the building to the neighboring area. He said he asked the developer representatives what would happen to the parking lot and the commercial spaces in the building as well as to Washington Street Alley, the de-mapped slice of former Washington Street that runs next to the landmarked Federal houses off of Harrison Street. “They couldn’t really answer it,” he said.

Marte said the developers do not expect to start construction “for the next four to five years. “I think because it’s so early on their consultants haven’t done a full analysis of what everything is going to look like,” he said. In its statement to the Trib, the Stellar Management spokesperson said the developer was in the early stages” of exploring the project.

The developer’s representatives are expected to present their proposal next month to Community Board 1’s Land Use, Zoning and Economic Development Committee. CB1 Chair Tammy Meltzer said she did not have enough information about the building to comment, but based on the feedback from leaders of the Independence Plaza Tenants Association, it would be “impactful.”

Diane Lapson, president of the tenant group, said that she and others were “shocked” when they met with developer representatives and learned the proposed height of the building. “I was almost speechless,” she said. Her fears, she noted, range from the years of noisy construction and the proliferation of rats, to the dangers from a supertall crane and the effect of a giant tower on wind in the area.

But if it turns out that the developer has the right to go forward with the plan, she added, There’s not much that we can say or do.

Stellar Management said in its statement that there will be a “full environmental impact statement (EIS) that would assess the project’s impact on shadows, traffic, schools, and other areas that could be impacted. The process will provide many opportunities for community members to provide feedback.

Comments? Write to carlg@tribecatrib.com


The surrounding community would be impacted in myriad ways

As a nearly 30-year resident of IPN I read with horror the Tribeca Trib article announcing the owners’ plans to build a 900 foot tower in the middle of an existing plaza. The owners allege that they are not subject to any requirement under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, claiming they can implement the project “as of right” because it is a “minor modification.”  Of course, a 900 foot tower is by no means minor.  It would negatively impact the residents of IPN and the surrounding community in myriad ways, not the least of which is to block afternoon sunlight from streets below and the residents to the east of IPN.


The owner will present the proposal to the CB1 Land Use, Zoning and Economic Development Committee at its next meeting 6 p.m. on December 11 in the conference room at 1 Centre Street, 2202 A North and Live Remote https://live.mcb1.nyc. I encourage everyone to attend.


At the November 13 meeting of the CB1 Land Use, Zoning and Economic Development committee, the Downtown Alliance representative highlighted “a lot of new residential development happening” in the CB1 area right now. He specifically mentioned 1,240 new units (apparently, all market rate rentals in residential conversion of commercial spaces); in addition to the 1,300 units planned for the conversion of 25 Water Street. One thing that this community surely does not need is MORE market rate rental units!  (IPN’s owners were permitted to remove 1,300 affordable units back in 2004.)


As a side note, the Downtown Alliance spokesman noted that intelligent owners are looking at public space attached to their buildings as a potential amenity. The plaza behind 310 Greenwich presents just such an opportunity; instead, the owners plan to obliterate it. 


There are 26 buildings in Manhattan exceeding 900 feet in height. At least seven of them are in the CB1 district. Does lower Manhattan really need another mammoth skyscraper? ELISSA KRAUSS

The worst possible idea for Independence Plaza

This is the worst possible idea. Aside from the fact that it will make the front of IPN Harrison street and the back of Greenwich street unlivable for years. How many people will it displace? For what reason? — ELLA BIONDI