A publicly accessible open area shall be improved in full accordance with the provisions of Section 37-70 (PUBLIC PLAZAS) as modified by this Section, and as further modified by Section 91-833 (Special regulations for plazas less than 40 feet in depth) for publicly accessible open areas with a maximum depth of less than 40 feet, as measured perpendicular to any street line. Subsequent design changes to any publicly accessible open area improved pursuant to the provisions of such Sections may only be permitted pursuant to Section 91-837. The City Planning Commission may authorize a modification of the provisions of this Section and Section 91-833 pursuant to Section 91-842 (Authorization to modify design requirements).
(a) For the purposes of applying the provisions of this Section, any portion of the publicly accessible open area occupied by a garage entrance, driveway, loading berth or gratings for electrical vaults may be excluded from the calculation of the total area or total street frontage of the publicly accessible open area. Such area shall remain open and accessible to the public at all times.
(b) The area dimension requirements of Section 37-712, the locational restrictions of Section 37-713, the orientation restrictions of Section 37-714 and the requirements for major and minor portions of public plazas set forth in Sections 37-715 and 37-716, respectively, shall not apply.
(c) The through block public plaza provisions of Section 37-717 that require a setback along any building wall or walls that adjoin a through block public plaza or through block portion of a publicly accessible open area shall not apply.
(d) The sidewalk frontage provisions of Section 37-721 shall be modified as follows:
(1) the requirements of paragraph (a) may be reduced to the minimum extent necessary to allow existing walls or structures within such area to remain, provided that such walls or structures do not increase in height or length along the street frontage, and all portions of the publicly accessible open area are accessible from a street, arcade or other portion of the publicly accessible open area.
(2) paragraph (b) shall be modified to allow planters with bounding walls that exceed a height of two feet that are permitted by paragraph (g) of this Section to be located in such area.
(3) for corner public plazas, where there is a change in elevation permitted by paragraph (e) of this Section for the area within 15 feet of the intersection of any two or more streets on which the publicly accessible open area fronts, such area shall not be required to be at the same elevation as the adjoining public sidewalk, but must be free of obstructions except as may otherwise be provided in paragraph (d)(1) of this Section.
(e) The provisions of Section 37-722 (Level of plaza) shall be modified to permit any elevation of the publicly accessible open area existing on June 21, 2016, to remain.
(f) The provisions of Section 37-726 (Permitted obstructions) shall be modified as follows:
(1) paragraph (c) shall allow awnings above retail and service establishments that do not project into the publicly accessible open area more than three feet when measured perpendicular to the building facade. There shall be no limitation on the area or height of an awning, but in no event shall an awning for a retail or service establishment contain vertical supports.
(2) paragraph (d) shall allow garage entrances, driveways or loading berths fronting on a publicly accessible open area and existing on June 21, 2016, to remain, provided that they are separated from the remainder of the publicly accessible open area by a barrier sufficient to substantially conceal these facilities and any vehicles therein when viewed from any point in the publicly accessible open area. A building trash storage facility may be accessed or serviced through the portion of a publicly accessible open area that is occupied by a garage entrance, driveway or loading berth.
(g) The provisions of Section 37-742 (Planting and trees) may be modified where the Chairperson of the City Planning Commission has been provided with documentation sufficient to establish that subsurface conditions do not allow the required soil depth for shrubs or trees to be provided below-grade or within a planter with bounding walls no higher than 18 inches in height above an adjacent walking surface or the highest adjacent surface where the bounding wall of such planter adjoins two or more walking surfaces with different elevations. A raised planter may be provided with bounding walls up to three feet for shrubs, or 3 feet, 6 inches for trees, provided that fixed seating with backs is integrated into the planter for at least 50 percent of the perimeter of the planter that is adjacent to a walking surface. If such planter, or any portion thereof, is located within ten feet of a street line, fixed seating with backs shall be integrated into at least 75 percent of the perimeter of the planter that is adjacent to a walking surface. Where it is demonstrated that no required trees can be planted flush-to-grade or planted at grade within planting beds with no raised curbs or railings, the Chairperson may allow all trees to be planted within raised planters.
(h) The calculation of the minimum number of entry plaques required by paragraph (a) of Section 37-751 (Public space signage systems) may be modified for publicly accessible open areas that occupy more than one street frontage to alternatively require a minimum of one entry plaque at each street frontage of the publicly accessible open area, and to further require one additional entry plaque at each street frontage that measures 80 feet or more in length.
(i) The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (d) of Section 37-753 (Accessory signs) shall not apply. Each establishment fronting on the publicly accessible open area shall be permitted to have one or more signs with an aggregate area not to exceed the product of 12 square feet and the length of the establishment along the publicly accessible open area in linear feet, divided by 40 linear feet. In no event shall a sign exceed 16 square feet in area. Signs may be affixed to the building wall or to awnings, or may project no more than 18 inches when measured perpendicular to the building facade, provided that such sign is located a minimum of 10 feet above the level of the publicly accessible open area.
(j) The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 37-76 (Mandatory Allocation of Frontages for Permitted Uses) shall not apply. The provisions of Section 91-831 (Ground floor requirements) shall apply to all new building walls fronting on the publicly accessible open area, and the following shall also apply:
(1) the use requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of Section 91-831 shall apply to all new establishments located along existing building walls fronting on a publicly accessible open area; and
(2) the provisions of paragraph (c) of Section 37-76 for existing building walls that are non-transparent shall apply except for frontage occupied by active loading and parking entrances.
(k) The provisions of Section 37-78 (Compliance) shall be modified as follows:
(1) paragraph (a) shall be modified to provide that no permit shall be issued by the Department of Buildings for any change to a publicly accessible open area without certification by the Chairperson of the City Planning Commission of compliance with the provisions of this Section and Sections 91-833 or 91-837, as applicable; and
(2) paragraph (b) shall be modified to require that the periodic compliance report shall document compliance with the provisions of Section 37-70 as modified by this Section and, as applicable, Section 91-833, and that such report shall also be provided to the local Council Member.