Not a Done Deal: Pols Push City Planning to Deny Waterfront Supertalls in Two Bridges

Posted on: July 21st, 2017 at 5:00 am by

Elected officials and vocal community leaders are rallying this morning against three new supertall towers poised to invade the Two Bridges coastline (10am, 80 Rutgers Slip). The group, which counts Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer, will reaffirm the position that the developments are not a done deal. It’s a stunt meant to “publicly pressure the City Planning Commission to deny the applications in Two Bridges when they vote this fall.

The real goal, though, is to force the whole process into the ULURP public review, as these towers are technically as-of-right.

Site of the rally is significant. 80 Rutgers Slip is the senior center over which the proposed 1,000-foot residential tower (aka 247 Cherry) will cantilever. As previously reported, JDS and SHoP Architects are vying for 500,000 square-feet of air rights from local nonprofits Settlement Housing Fund and the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council for $51 million. The controversial proposal (i.e. this is at the expense of the community) is to demolish the small community center flanking 247 Cherry and construct this spire-on-stilts atop the existing senior housing building. It’ll be composed of up to 660 rentals (in addition to 10 relocated from the senior building), approximately 165 of which earmarked as “permanently affordable” (25% of the total). JDS also committed to creating a 4,600 square-foot community facility within 247 Cherry.

The new Lower East Side waterfront

Soil sampling is already happening, too. We spotted a Davey Drill rig onsite a couple months ago gathering data.

Starrett Corp. (724 feet) and CIM/L+M (800-feet) are also planning as-of-right super-talls in the backyard of this low-income neighborhood.

Groups like the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, meanwhile, are still calling for Councilwoman Margaret Chin step down. The grassroots organization, which counts more than a dozen other local groups in its ranks, claims that the politician is firmly in the pocket of big-money developers.

Her challenger in this year’s election, upstart Christopher Marte, calls this stunt exactly that. A sham. In a statement to us, he notes:

Margaret Chin’s attempt to take a stand against the waterfront developments is too little, too late. When the community organized against the developers at the EIS meetings, our Councilperson creeped out the back door. After the third such protest, the EIS meetings were re-organized in a way that intentionally deprived the full community of being able to actually meet. Instead of weeknights, they were moved to Saturday mornings. Instead of being hosted in an open hall, they were divided up into subsections by rooms.

These meetings were a sham, just as today’s rally is. Our Councilmember knew when the protective zoning was expiring, and she did not renew it. Our Councilmember knew about the Chinatown Working Group plan, which would have prevented these towers, and she did not implement it. Our Councilmember knew that these luxury towers would displace seniors and cause second-hand displacement for countless residents, and she let the developers have their way.

Environmental scoping session, January 2017

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