Make No Mistake, CM Margaret Chin Wants Towers in Two Bridges [OP-ED]

Posted on: November 16th, 2018 at 5:03 am by

The new Lower East Side waterfront

The following editorial was written by community leader David Tieu, a member of the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors coalition, which is staunchly opposed to the incoming waterfront development.

With just a rubber stamp of City Planning approval, four mega-towers on the flood plain of the Lower East Side waterfront – each between 60 and 100 stories tall – could forever dwarf Lower Manhattan, and its residents will be displaced off the map. Real estate speculation and high rents will drive out one of the only working class communities left in Manhattan.

Yet, we are not powerless to stop these towers in Two Bridges. The City would technically be violating its own laws if it gives JDS Development Group, Starrett Corporation, and L+M the green light to build. Zoning Resolution Article 7 Chapter 8 states outright that any developments that change neighborhood character, block sunlight and air, create traffic congestion, or cause any adverse socio-economic impacts are not allowed in this area. These towers would violate each of these requirements; therefore they should not be built, plain and simple. Nevertheless, the de Blasio administration has ushered these towers through an approval process for months.

We call on the community to continue to demand, loud and clear, that the City enforce its own laws, to accept no compromises on our lives and our neighborhood. That is how we can protect our community. It is the only way.

During the public hearing hosted by the City Planning Commission in October, our community mobilized and provided hours of testimony urging the government to vote no. Yet, one voice stuck out against the others. Councilmember Margaret Chin even admitted the resolution would be violated, but then advocated for her tired zoning text amendment which would put the mega-towers through a Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). Her intention? More than likely to help the de Blasio administration circumvent the Zoning Law so that these towers can be built. In fact, Chin plainly admitted that she will support the construction of the towers … if the developers agree to a few concessions, such as a few more affordable units that are not actually affordable to the community, some 32BJ jobs, and maybe a few trees to line our parks.

This is the “reasonable development” that Chin referred to in her statement at the hearing.

One can also scrutinize Chin’s own records to understand her motive. From the colossal NYU expansion plan, to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area/Essex Crossing (otherwise known as Target and Trader Joe’s) and the Elizabeth Street Garden, the Councilmember has deftly used ULURP to steamroll neighborhoods, and distribute small concessions to those that are willing to accept them.

Our community is not interested in crumbs. These waterfront towers will put the nail in the coffin of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. All of us will be displaced if these towers are built, and the neighborhood will just become an extension of Wall Street.

Environmental scoping session, January 2017

That is why several community members are filing an ethics complaint against Councilmember Chin. We call on City Council to investigate Margaret Chin for wrongful conduct. By acknowledging the towers will violate the existing zoning, while still helping the process for approval continue, we argue that the Councilmember is willfully assisting illegal development. She recognizes a law is being broken, and then seemingly clamors for the chance to help the developers break it. Not only is she unfit to serve as our representative, she must be made an example of to demonstrate that New York City will not be sacrificed for profit. We call on City Council to enforce the law, and sanction Chin for advocating it to be broken.

Furthermore, the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors calls on all of Lower Manhattan to come together to stop these mega-towers, and hold our elected officials accountable to the law. In addition, the City should pass the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan in full. This plan would impose height restrictions throughout the entire community, protecting it from rampant high-rise luxury development.

Recent Stories

Rehab Begins for Fire-Ravaged School Building in Chinatown

In the wake of the devastating fire at the old Public School 23 building in Chinatown, the cleanup and rehab is full throttle. City contractors starting assembling scaffolding at the scorched 70 Mulberry Street earlier this week. The web of bars is making its way up the whole structure ahead of imminent debris removal. Meanwhile, […]

‘Bel Fries’ Nears Opening on Ludlow Street

The plywood is deposed, revealing the second fast-fry joint for Hell Square. Indeed, it took eighteen months, and several different murals on its shed, but Bel Fries is pretty much ready to go at 132 Ludlow Street. When we first broke word of its arrival in September 2018, we had been told it was called […]

Embattled WeWork Expands into New SoHo Development with 5-Story Workspace

WeWork just opened its latest downtown co-working location, with an enormous stake in a new SoHo development. Nameplate is up. The embattled company took a chunk of 140 Crosby Street (aka 606 Broadway), which came on line last year. The footprint is massive, with office space sprawled across five floors of the modern building. For […]

Pornhub Pop-up Heads to Allen Street for Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, Pornhub is pulling out the stops with a Lower East Side store. Beginning today, the porn website is hosting a two-day pop-up on Allen Street. Located at the corner of Broome Street – and steps from the Janina synagogue – the stunt is meant to woo horny locals to become premium customers. […]

Face Mask Price Gouging and Long Lines at Chinatown Post Offices Amidst Coronavirus Fears

With elevated fears over Coronavirus gripping the world, many like myself, with family in China and Hong Kong, are worried about the shortage of surgical or N95 face masks overseas. While the masks themselves might not be sufficient protection against the virus, it does provide some measure of comfort. But as I discovered, buying these […]