City Planning Approves Two Bridges Skyscrapers, Opponents Threaten Legal Action

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

The new Lower East Side waterfront

The dystopian future in which glass towers wall off the Lower East Side waterfront is now much closer to happening. City Planning Commission yesterday approved controversial plans for three proposed skyscrapers that will drastically change the composition of the neighborhood.

The Real Deal reported that the vote carried by a 10 to 3 margin, thereby circumventing the public review process (ULURP). It arrived two months after the final public hearing on the matter.

“This is nonetheless a challenging situation because the proposed buildings aren’t minor in scale and will affect the surrounding neighborhood,” CPC Chair Marisa Lago said after the result.

Is anyone really $urprised?

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 three developments will collectively add roughly 3,000 apartments to the majority low-income Two Bridges neighborhood, 700 of which are deemed affordable.

The triumvirate together aims to improve area infrastructure, such as revamping the decaying East Broadway subway station and a new entrance at Rutgers and Madison Streets; ADA-accessibilty to the train station (which is a first); upgrades to local Coleman, Captain Jacob Joseph, and Little Flower Playgrounds worth $15 million; various streetscape improvements; and flood resiliency measures.

The parking lot behind Lands End II

The response from the both politicians and various grassroots opposition groups was swift and pointed, including threats of legal action.

“Mayor de Blasio’s City Planning Commission voted to approve three new developments that will overwhelm this neighborhood, over our opposition and that of the neighborhood’s Community Board and its representatives in the State Assembly, State Senate, and Congress,” Councilwoman Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in a joint statement. “This so-called ‘minor modification’ would triple the number of apartments in the neighborhood and quadruple the maximum allowable height to over a thousand feet, resulting in a new building that would be the seventh tallest in the entire city, almost as tall as the Chrysler Building.”

“The de Blasio Administration’s insistence that these massive towers must move forward without a real review or negotiation is unlawful, and we are exploring all available options to oppose these developments.”

City Council speaker Corey Johnson didn’t mince words, either, when he wrote on Twitter, “Our suit will be filed this week.” And noting how “DCP has made an embarrassment of this process.”

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