Neighborhood Group Sues the City to Stop New Towers in Two Bridges

Posted on: March 22nd, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The new Lower East Side waterfront

Three months after first leveling the threats, the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors (LESON) has filed a lawsuit to stop four new towers (as part of three developments) from sprouting on the Two Bridges waterfront. The community organization partnered with the Asian American Legal Defense Fund to take the fight to the city.

LESON has been the most outspoken opponent of waterfront development in the years since plans emerged. All along, the group took the extreme of opposing all development, rather than forcing a ULURP. The ultimate goal being the revival of the decade-old, grassroots Chinatown Working Group zoning proposal.

Folks from LESON will make an announcement later this morning with a press conference outside 60 Centre Street (10am).

From the mailbag:

Tenants and other community members who have been fighting four luxury megatowers in the streets will now bring their fight to court, represented by attorneys from the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the towers outright.

The City Planning Commission’s December 5 approval of the developments on the Two Bridges waterfront pose an existential threat to working class communities in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. They are also illegal – violating the zoning that is meant to protect against out-of-scale development and environmental damage.

These megatowers will trigger displacement, as skyrocketing property values will encourage landlords to harass rent-stabilized residents out of their homes and rent commercial space to higher bidders. The shadows of these massive developments will reach past the Bowery, robbing an entire neighborhood of over five hours of sunlight.

More immediately, construction on all four sites is scheduled to be simultaneous. The building of the Extell tower was enough to cause cracks in the foundation of the neighboring Mitchell-Lama building, in addition to drilling and dust affecting the health and quality of life throughout the community. Two of the towers will be built directly against Section 8 buildings, which the same developers purchased a few years ago. The construction alone will force some neighbors into fleeing their community in order to preserve their health and safety.

The lawsuit is grounded in this environmental injustice and complete disregard for the protective zoning that is supposed to preserve this community of working class and immigrant New Yorkers. The developers’ Environmental Impact Study both glossed over the severe ramifications of their plans, and outright ignored the irreversible displacement they would cause. Once a community is jackhammered apart, it cannot be put back together.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s City Planning Commission is condemning the Lower East Side and Chinatown with its approval of these skyscrapers. LESON unites voices in demanding no towers to be built, and no compromises to be cut with real estate developers and other special interests.

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