City Council Levels Lawsuit Against the City to Rein in Two Bridges Skyscrapers

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

The new Lower East Side waterfront

In the wake of the City Planning affirmative vote last week for three waterfront skyscrapers to proceed, City Council on Friday took legal action to pump the proverbial brakes.

The 10-3 result didn’t sit well with Speaker Corey Johnson, who promised that the legislative body would level a lawsuit in no uncertain terms. He took to Twitter declaring that “we look forward to seeing Department of City Planning in Court” and that “we aren’t taking it lying down.”

And that’s precisely what happened. By Friday, papers were served. The complaint was a joint filing by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Councilmember Margaret Chin, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and alleges that approval of the massive project was “nothing short of irrational, arbitrary and capricious and is incorrect as a matter of law.”

The lawsuit lists as defendants the City Planning Commission, its chair Marisa Lago, as well as the Department of Buildings and the city of New York. At the heart of the lawsuit is the de Blasio administration’s classification of the massive new residential spires as a “minor modification,” allowing construction to proceed as-of-right (i.e. without review or special approval).

This particular lawsuit is not so much about torpedoing the developments, though, but rather forcing a public review process (ULURP) that would require rigorous oversight hearings by the Community Board and Borough President. City Council would then vote on the matter, often deferring to the district’s leader – in this case, Councilmember Margaret Chin.

Meaning, the ULURP would ultimately grant Chin power over what ends up here. Given her track record (i.e. the de-landmarking of 135 Bowery), residents should be vigilant. There is no trust among the more extreme area activists who continue to accuse her of being in cahoots with the developers.

Chin and Brewer rally against the towers, July 2017

As previously reported, JDS and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council will erect a 1,008-foot rental building that cantilevers over a senior center, designed by SHoP Architects (247 Cherry Street); L+M and CIM will build a 798 and 728-foot tower beast in the parking lot behind Lands End II, designed by Handel Architects (260 South Street); and Starrett will impart a 724-foot tower, designed by Perkins Eastman (259 Clinton Street). The developments will together flood the neighborhood, largely low-income, with some 3,000 additional apartments.

Local tenant groups are readying legal action of their own, too. TUFF-LES, GOLES, and CAAAV are diametrically opposed to the three projects, and collectively represented by attorney Paula Segal at the Urban Justice Center. Word on the street is that an official complaint is close to fruition on that front.

Meanwhile, City Council lawsuit is below:

City Council Lawsuit Against the City Over Two Bridges Towers by BoweryBoogie on Scribd

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