Behemoth on the Backside: Proposed Cherry Street Tower to Reach 1000 Feet

Posted on: June 29th, 2016 at 5:00 am by
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Extell tends to hog headlines when conversations arise about the changing skyline on the Lower East Side waterfront. Their market-rate tower – One Manhattan Square – will reach peak height of some 80 stories. But the real behemoth is on the backside, so to speak. The Cherry Street tower that will trounce the nearby senior center, thanks its own sponsors Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing (“Two Bridgeset”).

Yes, the community was led to believe that the new 247 Cherry is “smaller” in scope at 77 stories. The truth of the matter, however, is that this number only referred to the liveable residential component. In actuality, its true height is really at or above 1,000 feet, dwarfing both Extell (823 feet) and the 107-year-old Manhattan Bridge (336 feet) in one fell swoop. And it’s literally built on the backs of seniors (i.e. Two Bridges Senior Center).

Check out this architectural rendering from City Planning. The roof sits at 983 feet, but factoring in the parapet will presumably add even more height.

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Acting as conduit (i.e. a wolf in sheep’s clothes), the longtime Two Bridgeset partnership together sold a package of 500,000 square-feet of air rights to prolific developers JDS Development Group and SHoP Architects for $51 million. The plan here, as previously reported, is to demolish the small community center flanking 247 Cherry and construct this 1,000-foot cantilevering beast over the top of the existing senior housing building. It’ll be composed of 600 rentals, approximately 150 of which earmarked as “permanently affordable” (25% of the total). JDS also committed to creating a 4,600 square-foot community facility within 247 Cherry.

Neighbors claim that they will see little benefit from this building, especially 82 Rutgers, whose air rights were transferred as part of the project. There is pretty much no trust between TBNC and their tenants. Until a couple months ago, there hadn’t been a tenant meeting in years. And when it finally happened, the leadership was bashed into submission. Two Bridges President Victor Papa was, and still is, singled out as being crooked, and lining his own pockets. Indeed, tenants simply don’t understand how this monstrosity could benefit the overall community, as its mere presence is a destructive force. No one – except maybe developers – wants this area to become “another Battery Park.”

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Meanwhile, Little Cherry Development, LLC previously laid claim to part of the land, having agreed to purchase the parcel, known as 235-247 Cherry, from Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund for $4 million. The organizations balked, and Schoenberg leveled a $50 million lawsuit for breach of contract. That lawsuit is making its way toward settlement as we speak. It’s conceivable that the developers will cover the settlement monies. Once leases expire on the former pharmacy box – Extell holds half the space until 2044, and Schoenberg has the other half – the thought is to build more retail at the base.

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