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NEW YORK CITY-A height cap of 80 feet on new construction in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and East Village will be in effect as a result of a rezoning plan approved yesterday by the City Council. The downzoning encompasses a 111-block area north of Houston Street between Third Avenue and Avenue D, as well as the area south of Houston Street, between Pitt and Christie streets.

Three years in the making, the rezoning is intended to preserve the historic character of the two neighborhoods as well as Chinatown. It’s expected to spur production of up to 1,670 housing units in the next 10 years, including 560 affordable housing units.

“This action ensures the survival of the low-scale character of a community which was recently recognized as one of the 11 most endangered neighborhoods in the US” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, says council member Rosie Mendez in a statement. “We obtained inclusionary zoning, which creates the potential for new affordable housing. My community conceived of and demanded this plan and I am pleased to have been a part of their efforts to get it.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says in a release that the downzoning “is the latest in a series of important rezonings approved by the Council in the past year–including major plans for Jamaica, Harlem, Hunters Point South and Willets Point, among others–that will help New York City grow intelligently and prepare us for the future.” The council approved the rezoning of Willets Point and Hunter’s Point South–both in Queens–on Nov. 14.

Amanda Burden, city planning commissioner, says in a release that the LES/East Village rezoning “will protect and preserve two of the city’s most significant and diverse neighborhoods” while fulfilling “the community’s desire for, and the Bloomberg administration’s commitment to, affordable housing.”

In other news, the council on Wednesday also approved amendments to the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program. Businesses that are found in violation of city regulations through environmental hazards like asbestos, building code violations or faulty fire safety plans will have their ICAP tax abatement benefits suspended if they have not corrected the violations within 180 days. The amendments, which are retroactive to July 1, 2008, take effect immediately.

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