Draft Environmental Review Doesn’t Take into Account Effects of 3 LES Waterfront Super-Talls, CB3 Says
The Department of City Planning this month issued its initial review of the overall impact that three mega-developments on the Lower East Side waterfront – composed of 2,700 rentals and condos – will have on the surrounding community. The Land-Use subcommittee of Community Board 3 met this week to discuss the city’s assessment of the situation, and it went over exactly how you’d think.
All at once, JDS Development (1,000 feet), Starrett Corp. (724 feet), and CIM/L+M (800-feet) are planning as-of-right super-talls in the backyard of a low-income neighborhood. The developers previously conceded – at the behest of the city – to participate in the environmental review process to help determine the area impact, resulting in a few meetings with the community over the last several months. (They didn’t always go as planned, like when angry activists filibustered the meeting in January.)
On March 17, Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter to the developers urging them to delay the EIS Scoping Hearing to allow for more community input. They denied that request, but were overruled by the city two weeks later, and forced to delay the meeting by an additional month for additional outreach and to provide proper translated documents for non-English speaking residents.
The environmental review before CB3 Wednesday night was the Draft Scope of Work. Board members found that there isn’t enough consideration for how the three developments will affect public transportation (the F station at East Broadway is already over-crowded), medical facilities, overcrowding in schools, and also the effects on rent-regulated apartments in the immediate vicinity.
[The Draft] dedicates a section to indirect residential displacement, but proposes to only account for how market-rate apartments will be affected by the new development. “The bottom line is that we really care about neighborhood character and affordability,” said Lisa Kaplan, a member of the Land Use Subcommittee. “I think how it’s described [in the review] of only affecting non-regulated apartments is egregious.”
The review also proposes to look into the displacement of business that’s accelerated by the new development. Tenant organizer Melanie Wong addressed the issue, noting that changes in business may also contribute to making the neighborhood less affordable. “They’re assuming that secondary displacement takes place only because the rent is too high and we all know that’s not true.”
If CB3 ratifies the subcommittee’s concerns, they’ll be incorporated into the final Environmental Impact Statement. The aforementioned public scoping meeting, the penultimate step before finalizing the review, is planned for May 25.