Get Ready for Another Supertall Tower Beside Extell on the LES Waterfront

Posted on: April 25th, 2016 at 8:45 am by
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Former Pathmark Pharmacy at 237 Cherry St.The old Pathmark site down on the waterfront is becoming a heated zone of gold rush activity. It’s not just the 80-story Extell tower rising here, but the drama surrounding the adjacent “pharmacy” lot. The Little Cherry might mature, after all.

Roy Schoenberg (pka Little Cherry LLC) previously partnered with Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund to construct a 47-story residential (mixed income) tower at 237-247 Cherry Street. The community group, which owns the land beneath the brick box, agreed to unload the Pharmacy/Rent-a-Center site to Schoenberg for $4 million, but later backed out of the deal, triggering a $50 million lawsuit from Schoenberg. (Little Cherry owns the lease on half the retail; Extell has the other half through 2044.) The legal fight, while ongoing, is apparently water under the proverbial bridge at this point. The development is back on track with a settlement slated for later this spring.

TBNC circulated an ambiguous letter to residents over the weekend about the new “residential tower proposed to be built adjacent to the Two Bridges Senior Apartment building at 80 Rutgers,” while simultaneously announcing a tenant meeting this week for official announcement. Those in the senior building are reportedly worried, rightfully, about whether they’ll have a home after this monstrosity is constructed. And while details are currently lacking, word on the street is that a familiar face is linked to the supertall project – SHoP Architects – which already has a history of working with this community organization.

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So, it now makes more sense why Two Bridges Neighborhood Council allegedly sent a letter to Community Board 3 earlier this year regarding the Chinatown Working Group zoning proposal and its treatment of the waterfront (Subsection D). We’re told the nonprofit specifically asked for no height caps in the area. Mind boggling. Until this coastline is protected, we can easily expect a blinding wall of glass along the South Street waterfront. This new tower, rising at least 50 stories adds to that mess.

Moreover, there is a feeling among neighbors that the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council is selling out its base, and keeping residents in the dark about overall plans. First to Extell – updates don’t always trickle down to residents of 82 Rutgers – and now for this newest tower. Even the back room staff is in upheaval.

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Two Bridges Neighborhood Council is settling with Little Cherry for new buildingMost suspicious are the major organizational changes that seem to have happened just before the announcement that Little Cherry is indeed a go. For instance, two power players stepped down from the board. Associate Director (and historian) Kerri Culhane, second in command to Victor Papa, resigned (her picture is still on the site, though); board chair, Vincent Wong, is no longer Chair (Position now vacant). The website was reportedly updated Friday to reflect the personnel change. 

Meanwhile, public record shows that the years-running lawsuit will be settled within the next couple months. The two parties were ordered by Judge Jeffrey Oing to continue the conversation regarding a settlement, with a subsequent court date set for June.

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