SoHo Sanitation Garage

In 2005, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) announced plans for a 140- to 150-feet-high and 427,000 square foot garage on a lot bounded by Spring, Washington and West streets in Manhattan. Plans for the garage fit into the DSNY’s Solid Waste Management Plan, which focuses on making sanitation removal and storage equitable among the five boroughs and was approved by the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in 2006. According to the City’s proposal, the garage’s ground floor would be used by the United Parcel Service (UPS), which currently utilizes the parking lot for its trucks, and the rest of the facility would be used by the DSNY.

Having this facility would allow the Sanitation Department to consolidate. The garage operations of Manhattan District 1 are currently at 553 Canal Street/297 West Street, Manhattan District 2 is located at 212 Bloomfield Street/427 Gansevoort Street, and Manhattan District 5 is presently located at 525-545 East 73rd Street. In addition, the plans include turning a smaller garage directly south of the lot and next to the ventilation shafts into a truck washing and refueling depot. That facility would need to store 13,000 gallons of fuel and oil. The site would be used for parking, maintenance and refueling of DSNY vehicles and equipment including refuse and recycling collection trucks, snow plows, and salt spreaders.

The lot is in a quickly gentrifying area of Manhattan. Residents and developers of other projects nearby were fearful of the effects a new sanitation garage might have on views, noise and health conditions in the area. The DSNY and supporters of the plan argued that the consolidated sanitation facility was necessary to abide by a court agreement to find alternatives for sanitation facilities at Hudson River Park. Despite community concerns, the proposal for the facility went through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), and the City Council and the City Planning Commission (CPC) approved the Spring Street site in 2008. The Public Design Commission approved the plan in September 2009.

On February 3, 2009, several area property owners and Tribeca and Hudson Square groups such as the Tribeca Community Association, the Canal West Coalition and the Canal Park Conservancy, filed a lawsuit against the DSNY, the CPC, and the Hudson River Park Trust to block the project. The plaintiffs claimed that other sites had not been properly considered, and consolidating three districts’ garages into one large garage violates the City Charter’s Fair Share Criteria. In January 2010, the lawsuit was dismissed.

Several of the plaintiffs belonged to the Hudson Square Sanitation Steering Committee, a key group who has opposed the SoHo Sanitation Garage. The Committee issued an alternative plan dubbed the Hudson Rise plan in June of 2009. The Hudson Rise plan envisions a 2-district (rather than 3) station, with a building height capped at 75-feet (instead of 120).

The Hudson Rise plan was never adopted. In February 2010, the Department of Sanitation put out a bid to contractors for a 3- district garage. The Department of Sanitation hopes to have the garage completed in three years and is expected to cost $385 million.