Judge Rules in Favor of Public Review Process for Two Bridges Mega-Towers

Posted on: August 2nd, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The future coastline, Photo: SHoP Architects

Another defeat for developers in the battle for the Lower East Side waterfront.

Yesterday afternoon, State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled in favor of New York City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in their lawsuit against the city, which contends that the three proposed mega-developments in the Two Bridges neighborhood must go through the public review process (ULURP).

At the heart of the action is the de Blasio administration’s 2016 classification of the residential spires – all taller than eighty stories – as a “minor modification” to the existing large scale residential development, and therefore not subject to ULURP.

In its judgment, the court found “(t)he irreparable harm here is two-fold. First, a community will be drastically altered without having had its proper say. Second, and arguably more important, allowing this project to proceed without the City Council’s imprimatur would distort the City’s carefully crafted system of checks and balances. Under ULURP, the City Council’s mandatory role is not merely to advise, but to grant or deny final approval (with the Mayor). Without ULURP, the City’s legislature is cut out of the picture entirely.”

What it also means is more power for Chin.

City Council votes at the end of the process, 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.

The ruling follows two months after Engoron issued an injuction against the developers in a separate lawsuit brought by a Lower East Side community coalition.

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