City Planning Commission to Vote on Controversial Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Towers this Month [Updated]

Posted on: January 8th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

In early-December, the City Planning Commission convened a public hearing on the controversial development proposed for the fire-scorched Beth Hamedrash Hagadol site at Norfolk and Broome Streets. No vote followed.

As previously reported, the project (aka GO Broome) is a two-towered joint venture between the Chinese-American Planning Council nonprofit and the Gotham Organization. Together, the co-developers seek a rezoning to legalize the block-long beast at 60 Norfolk – composed of 16- and 30-story towers – directly across from Essex Crossing. This size and heft are apparently not permissible under the current zoning designation (R-8). In fact, it’s approximately two-and-a-half times bigger than zoning allows. So the developers seek a variance (R-9) that would essentially legalize the oversized project at Broome and Norfolk Streets.

Photo: Gotham Organization

The LES Against Upzoning grassroots group was in attendance at the public hearing and shared the following summation of the proceedings:

The vote was delayed until January 21 because the planning commission had many questions, some of which the developer could not answer. No actual residents testified in favor of the development – the only people who spoke for it were other Not For Profit executives, union reps, and a few folks who go to Chinese Planning Council or utilize their services.

Several of the commissioners were surprised and unhappy that no one from the large team that the developer and Chinese-American Panning Council brought with them could tell the commission the median income (AMI) of the Lower East Side, especially since so much of what the GoBroome team is asking for is literally based on AMI. Several commissioners were also unhappy that GoBroome couldn’t answer the simple question of what could be built without the unprecedented number of sidewalk, height, width, distance, and bulk waivers they are asking for.

We also shared photos with the planning commission showing how Norfolk Street on this spot is now only about 8 to 9 feet wide, with trucks parked on the sidewalk next to stacks of garbage, further demonstrating the requested scale of this project is absurd given the size of surrounding streets.

Overall, it was a surprisingly poor and unprepared showing by GoBroome.

UPDATE: per developers’ PR, “The vote was not delayed. The vote has always been scheduled for January as it follows the DEIS hearing process (the vote must be within 50 days of the meeting, and is set by DCP).”

If the vote ultimately carries at City Planning Commission later this month, it’s on to City Council, then the Mayor.

Recent Stories

Cactus Store Resumes Summertime Residency on Essex Street

The Cactus Store returned to the Lower East Side this weekend for its fourth seasonal outing, and first since coronavirus ruined everything. As before, the succulents sellers plant annual roots in the lot at 5 Essex Street. Infrastructure from prior years remains in place. Saturday was opening day. The Cactus Store is a product of […]

Ludlow Street Pizzeria Hits the Open Market

La Margarita Pizza might not have much time left in Hell Square. The Ludlow Street pizzeria is now pitched on the open market. The 800 square-foot store at 268 Ludlow appeared on Craigslist in late-May for $9,000 per month in rent. The listing caps some eight years in business for the Lower East Side pizza […]

Everynight Charley Checkup: Vilray at Rockwood Music Hall

What follows is the beginning of a periodic checkup of the downtown music scene with Everynight Charley Crespo, prolific Editor of The Manhattan Beat. The vocalist, guitarist and songwriter known simply as Vilray (pronounced vill-ree) has an uncanny ability to bridge past and present. Vilray, who does not use his family name, was raised in […]

Mictlan Mexico Brings Orchard Street South of the Border

There is a new taqueria on the Lower East Side. Natalin Perez, who currently operates Haab out in Brooklyn, just lifted the curtains on her new project. The fifteen-table restaurant at 17 Orchard Street, Mictlan Mexico. It takes the reins from the Fat Radish, which spent ten years serving the neighborhood before the pandemic chased […]

The Menace of Summertime Saturday Night on Ludlow Street

With comfort levels of close-quarters partying seemingly back to pre-pandemic norms, Hell Square has rebounded in kind. Neighbors report that any quality-of-life progress gained in this sixteen square-block sector over the last few years completely evaporated. The hordes of hellraisers were out in full force again this past Saturday night. One week after a roving […]