As Lawsuit to Stop JDS 1,000-Foot Development is Tossed, Revelation that HUD Already Supports Plans
As the gold rush continues to polarize the Lower East Side waterfront, it’s the seniors living in 80 Rutgers Slip who are most affected. After all, the proposed 1,000-foot tower is to sit directly atop the this building. Literally built on the backs of seniors.
This is the handiwork of JDS Development in conjunction with Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing. The latter two organizations – working in tandem against the wishes of its clientele – sold the valuable air rights to the developer for $51 million.
At prior community meetings, area residents voiced concern about how this would affect those living in 80 Rutgers. During a December scoping session, JDS honcho Michael Stern noted that only nine seniors would be relocated during construction. When the new building opens, they would be given new apartments, he said, adding that social workers will be helping to relocate the displaced residents.
Now, however, it’s come to light that those claims may have been a bit misleading, and that, simultaneously, conversations were happening directly with the Department of Housing and Urban Development without consultation of the local officials.
In a November letter to HUD, unbeknownst to local officials, Two Bridges President Victor Papa and Settlement Housing President Alexa Sewell asked the federal agency to sign off on relocation of seniors living at 80 Rutgers. They wrote of the necessity to potentially move the tenants of up to 19 apartments – nine units that would be “obstructed by the tower” (and off-line for 12 months during renovations), plus another ten that would be taken off-line permanently. JDS would provide replacement apartments in its new tower for those units.
Worst of all, HUD is in approval, stating in an email “our office is in support of this development plan.” However, that formal approval must be sought in the future, as the plan is about two years away from becoming a reality.
And it seems like there’s nothing stopping this gravy train. Even the three-year-old legal action by Little Cherry LLC – Gary Spindler and Roy Schoenberg – hit a snag last week, when the court of appeals ruled against them. As previously reported, the suit claimed that Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund reneged on an accord to sell 247 Cherry Street to the developers for $4 million. The organizations had entered into a deal with Little Cherry to build a 47-story on the property, but backed out after Little Cherry allegedly failed to obtain permits from the Department of City Planning in time.
There is still a second outstanding lawsuit against JDS charging that the company usurped their development rights to the property.