JDS Champions Affordability with its 1,000-Foot Luxury Tower on the LES Waterfront

Posted on: September 27th, 2016 at 4:55 am by
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Photo: JDS DevelopmentIt was standing room only last night in Two Bridges, and not for a screening of the Clinton-Trump debate. Rather a community meeting about the incoming 1,000-foot residential tower at 247 Cherry Street brought to the area by JDS Development and SHoP Architects.

The assembly itself was civil, albeit tense. How could it not be? Residents who have had to contend with years of construction hell are looking down the barrel of several more.

These were shrewd businessmen – Michael Stern (JDS) and Gregg Pasquarelli (SHoP) – who presented a confident argument with a slick, political response to every question and concern. The JDS pitch began with some historical context; they dug into the press archives to note how change along the waterfront has never been popular, from Pathmark to the construction of 82 Rutgers Slip. Then focused on the importance and challenges of affordability at a time when rents are rising and wages stagnating. How this predominantly market rate tower – cantilevering over senior residences – is antidote with its 25% permanently affordable units. (The bullshit meter in the room registered pretty high on that count.)

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Photo: JDS DevelopmentQuick stats of the project:

  • 247 Cherry will stand 1,000 feet, or 77 stories (which is pretty misleading).
  • There will be 639 rental units, 25% of which are permanently affordable. The market rate pays for the inclusion of affordable.
  • Unlike Extell just down the block, there are no “poor door” entrances.
  • 9 seniors would be moved to the tower so laundry rooms can be installed inside 80 Rutgers.
  • Affordable neighborhood retail, with a “local pharmacy” favored at Cherry/Rutgers corner.
  • Resiliency against future storms by adding walls, elevating critical infrastructure, and adding generators at 80 Rutgers.
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The opposition, flustered by their neighborhood being the latest gold mine, showed up.

  • There was worry about further damage — JDS responded that their construction differs from Extell, and won’t have a foundation, built with concrete core and steel truss (no de-watering process). They have a “comprehensive mitigation plan”…
  • There was concern that bestowing resiliency upgrades to only 80 Rutgers would make its neighbor (82) more vulnerable — JDS is willing to discuss feasibility of improvements to the latter building…
  • There was concern about how “affordability” was calculated, and how it should be pegged at the area income levels…
  • There was concern about the seniors who would be displaced by construction of new laundry rooms. How their entire routine and way of life would be interrupted — JDS is sensitive to the needs of those relocated, but acknowledged that their removal is for the “long term good” of the area…
  • “And what if we don’t want this, what do we do?” asked a speaker — JDS acknowledges that every time change comes, there’s a concern that leads to conversation…

Yet, in the end, was this whole presentation moot? At least one person in attendance seemed to think so. That would be an attorney for Little Cherry (Gary Spindler and Roy Schoenberg), currently embroiled in litigation over the site. They accuse the nonprofits of reneging on a prior agreement for 235 Cherry that includes air rights JDS needs for its construction. “It’s hard to understand why they’re presenting before the community,” he noted, given the ongoing litigation.

JDS wouldn’t comment on anything related to the lawsuit.


Below is the full presentation for your perusal:

The 1,000-Foot Tower at 247 Cherry Street

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