LES Activists Torpedo Developers’ Scoping Session to Protest Waterfront Towers

Posted on: January 19th, 2017 at 5:00 am by

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It was only fitting that, two days after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the spirit of protest infiltrated a planning session for the upcoming wall of glass on the Lower East Side waterfront. And a surprise, at that.

The powers-that-be set up an info session (free food!) on the environmental review process (“EIS”) for the trio of proposed developments. It was billed as an opportunity to elicit community input before the process even begins (pre-beginning). Barely fifteen minutes into proceedings, though, tenant groups interrupted with a well coordinated filibuster. A sneak attack on the unsuspecting horde.

It worked.

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The speech, delivered via bullhorn, was a piecemeal letter composed and endorsed by the organizations demanding that the city postpone the review process. Specifically, to extend the timeline on the final scoping meeting to at least September to allow for more comprehensive community feedback. The group repeated that they sent proposals to the city to the effect, but have heard zilch.

The developers of the three proposed waterfront projects – JDS Development (1,000 feet), Starrett Corp. (724 feet), CIM/L+M (800-feet) – were publicly villified. In fact, they got their collective ass handed to them. Plenty of drama. There were signs; there were outbursts; there were protest chants; there were f-bombs; there were screaming matches.

The new Lower East Side waterfront

The new Lower East Side waterfront

Area residents piled on for over thirty minutes, venting their pent-up frustrations, calling the carpetbaggers “blood sucking insects” with no regard for the waterfront community. How they’re “crowding us out down here” and that constructing super-tall towers with a pittance of “affordable” housing units is “bullshit.”

The momentum then switched gears to the politicians in attendance (Margaret Chin, Gale Brewer, Daniel Squadron). Specifically, Margaret Chin, who was called out as a sell-out. And hizzoner de Blasio for being in the pockets of big real estate.

The developers

The developers

The angry mass then demanded that developers speak, but, of course, they did not. Counsel for one of the developers tried to respond with lip service about how they’re still in the early planning stages of each development and how these sessions are key to making everyone happy. He was quickly shot down. Borough President Gale Brewer then took the mic, acknowledging that the community’s demand for an extension was heard by the city but it, too, was shot down.

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By the end of the grievance session, though, the opposition was split. Split between those who wanted to stay and fight (otherwise, “playing into hands of developers”) and others who felt the system is too rigged (“the decision has already been made”).

Below is an excerpt of what went down.

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