CB3 Votes to Co-Sponsor Controversial Rezoning of LES Waterfront in Bid to Thwart Supertall Development

Posted on: October 19th, 2017 at 5:01 am by

Thanks to a confluence of election year politics and incessant grassroots organizing, development along the Lower East Side waterfront is firmly in the spotlight. It’s a rare moment when the voice of the people is being heard, albeit barely. There is definitely traction, but a race against the clock is afoot.

Nevertheless, Community Board 3 took one major step in that direction last night. The Land-Use subcommittee voted to approve a subsection of the ten-year-old Chinatown Working Group plan to rezone swaths of the Lower East Side. Effectively becoming so-called “co-applicants” in the process. Subdistrict D runs along the East River and includes the Two Bridges waterfront currently designated gold rush territory.

Seemingly threatened by the march of Marte (who was in attendance), Councilwoman Chin announced her endorsement before the presentation, and reminded the community of her intention to fight waterfront over-development. The incumbent, along with Borough President Gale Brewer, filed a “rare” zoning text amendment last week that would help protect the Two Bridges neighborhood from a wall of glass. If passed, it would require the three proposed developments be subject to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the seven-month public review that arms City Council with final say on whether to approve or disapprove a land use change.

(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.)

Led by local groups CAAAV, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and Tenants United Fighting for Lower East Side (TUFF-LES), the presentation seemingly drew the largest crowd to a CB3 meeting we’ve seen in quite some time. And in the process, rehashed the nuts-and-bolts components about the proposed rezoning for Subdistrict D. Namely:

  • Building heights would be limited to 350 feet.
  • Guarantee that at least 50% of units in new construction are affordable housing.
  • Developers would engage in a Certificate of No Harassment to protect tenants affected by construction.
  • Requirement for maximum open space development.
  • New development would stay within the scale and context of the surroundings.
  • That there be a public review process for any potential big-box stores or bars.

There was some trepidation on the part of the panel, though. Noting that, even with CB3 backing, the plan might not curb the incoming supertall projects. And that the fight for such a zoning change would lose the race against the developments. Trever Holland of TUFF-LES, however, appeared confident that now is the opportune time to strike, and that the developers might not be as far along as they suggest.

The CB3 stance as co-applicant was voted with the caveat that the approval was more in the spirit of the proposal, but that further dialogue and negotiation would be necessary. To that end, the three groups are willing to negotiate to push this thing through.

Local support is essential, as it’ll assist in the attainment of fee waivers when it comes to the zoning application process, which apparently costs $500K to initiate.

Next steps…

  • An 197-C Land Use Application must be submitted to and certified by the Department of City Planning.
  • The City Planning Commission must approve the application.
  • The City Council must vote in favor of the application.

Two Bridges waterfront


Recent Stories

Teen Chef Flynn McGarry Opens his ‘Gem’ on Forsyth Street

He’s nineteen-years-old and has the food industry smitten. Teen chef prodigy Flynn McGarry this week opened a new Lower East Side restaurant on Forsyth Street called Gem. It’s a dining concept with split personality, offering both a coffee shop vibe (like it’s predecessor Cafe Henrie) and place for deep-pocketed tasting menu seekers. The Living Room, […]

‘Miss Paradis’ is a Goner After 1 Year on Prince Street

Just over a year after its debut, Miss Paradis on Prince Street closed down for a “makeover.” Uh oh. Brown butcher paper installed at the end of January currently obstructs the wraparound windows at 47 Prince Street, along with a message about renovating the premises. Miss Paradis promises to return in the “next couple weeks.” […]

Ai Weiwei ‘Good Fences’ Are Starting to Come Down

Crews deployed across the city this week to depose of the months-long Ai Weiwei public art project, “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.” Here on the Lower East Side, the decorative chain-link fences were removed from the rooftops of 248 Bowery and 189 Chrystie Street. However, the series of banners straddling the Essex Street Market remains […]

Here’s the First Look at the 11-Story Rebirth of 139 Bowery

There is nothing left of 139-141 Bowery. Over the course of the last several months, the side-by-side buildings experienced a slow death at the hands of a wrecking crew. (Non-union scabs, apparently, as the giant inflatable rats and pigs previously made an appearance.) But this newfound open-air will soon yield more residential mass. Below is […]

Police Release Details on ‘Pianos’ Slashing Suspect

Police yesterday released an image of the man wanted for slashing a patron at Pianos last weekend (February 11). James Mercado of the Bronx, age 27, entered the bar in the early morning hours with his friend and girlfriend. When she began kissing another guy, a tourist from France, Mercado allegedly smashed a glass cup […]