Tallest Staten Island Project Ever OK’d by Planning Commission

A rendering of River in Staten Island North with Madison Realty Capital co-founders Josh Zegen or Brian Shatz (FXCollaborative, Madison Realty Capital)

A controversial development along the St. George waterfront in Staten Island has progressed to the decisive stage after approval from the City Planning Commission.

On Wednesday, the commission approved zoning changes that allow for the construction of River North, whose three buildings would include the two tallest in Staten Island history.

Eight commissioners approved the zoning changes, while two voted against them, one abstained and one was absent, according to the Staten Island Advance.

River North, being developed by Madison Realty Capital, now faces its make-or-break moment at the City Council, which will vote on the project in the next 50 days. The local member, Debi Rose, will essentially decide its fate.

Insiders expect Rose will negotiate a modest height reduction and approve it, given that it would have to provide affordable units under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing law.

The development would bring 750 apartments across buildings 26, 25 and 11 stories tall. Current zoning does not allow anything above 34 feet, but the new rules could allow for over 250.

The project site is in the Hillside District, which is excluded from the St. George Special District where 20-plus-story buildings are allowed. The borough’s tallest building is believed to be a 20-story structure on St. Marks Place.

The River North development would include almost 20,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, perhaps a supermarket and day care facility. There will also be about 340 parking spots, community space and potentially a fitness center for residents.

Critics say it will change the neighborhood forever and that Staten Island lacks the infrastructure to support it. Borough President James Oddo has testified against the project.

Oddo told The Real Deal on Friday that the project would be too much for local sanitary and storm sewers, the Port Richmond sewage treatment plant, public schools, parking facilities and roads.

“It’s still not a walkable community despite the BS from the developer, so where do all the cars go?” he said. “And this is just the beginning of potential development.”

[SI Advance] — Holden Walter-Warner

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