Councilwoman Margaret Chin Threatens Legal Action Over Two Bridges Supertall Towers

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 at 5:11 am by

Last Friday, local politicans and community leaders held a rally outside the senior center at 80 Rutgers Street to protest the so-called “wall of glass” coming to the Two Bridges waterfront.

The media stunt was an effort to push the City Planning Commission to think twice before approving the applications for these monstrous buildings when they vote this fall. Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who is fighting for her seat in an election year, and is accused of being in the pockets of developers, went so far as to threaten legal action if the city decides to proceed.

JDS Development (1,000 feet), Starrett Corp. (724 feet), and CIM/L+M (800-feet) are each planning as-of-right super-tall towers in the backyard of a low-income neighborhood.

Photo: JDS Development

“These monstrous mega-towers are not a done deal,” said Chin. “Should the City Planning Commission rule against this community by green-lighting these proposed towers without any real public input, I will use every tool at my disposal to challenge that decision, even legal action against the Administration. These developments pose an existential threat to this neighborhood, which has been a haven for low-income people of every race, religion and ethnic background for decades. To my friends and neighbors who are deeply concerned about the future of their community, I assure you that we have only just begun to fight.”

The Starrett tower on Clinton St.

The ultimate goal is to force the incoming developers to abide by a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which would require a full public review from the Community Board, Borough President, and a vote in the City Council (not mandatory for as-of-right developments). Chin and Brewer had pitched the Department of City Planning on accepting this course of action last summer but were rebuffed.

One thing is for sure – there is a lot of money at stake here on the Lower East Side waterfront. Anything to make it happen. For instance, in a November 2016 letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 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 Slip in order to hasten development of the 1,000-foot tower at 247 Cherry Street. They allegedly 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. When that story came to light in February, Chin and Brewer blasted the owners for “attempting to reach a secret agreement with HUD to displace those seniors to clear the way for luxury development.”

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