Developers of controversial Two Bridges towers pitch $55M in transit and open space improvements

October 18, 2018

Via Handel Architects

During a City Planning Commission hearing on Wednesday, local residents and officials of the Two Bridges community voiced their strong opposition to four towers planned for the Lower Manhattan neighborhood. Those who testified against the buildings questioned the developer’s draft environmental impact study (DEIS), which found the projects would not cause displacement, amNY reported. Developers also announced measures to mitigate the potential adverse effects on the neighborhood, which include upgrading the F train station at East Broadway, improving public parks, and implementing flood protection measures.

Proposed 247 Cherry Street will reach over 1,000 feet, the tallest building planned for the site via JDS Development

The three developments planned for the waterfront of Two Bridges include a 660-foot tall tower at 247 Cherry Street developed by JDS Development, two 50-story towers at 260 South Street from L+M Partners and CIM Group, and a 724-foot tall building at 275 South Street from Starrett Development.

Overall, the four towers would bring more than 2,700 new residential units to the area, with 25 percent of them affordable, and a percentage designated for seniors. According to the DEIS, there would also be nearly 11,000 square feet of retail space.

In a joint statement, the three developers said their projects will deliver about 700 much-needed units of permanently affordable housing and called it “a critical addition amid the ongoing housing crisis.”

“At the same time, the proposed developments include investments that will provide genuine and lasting benefits for current residents in the neighborhood,” they wrote. Investments proposed by the developers include $40 million in upgrades to make the East Broadway station ADA-accessible and roughly $15 million in upgrades to three local public parks, neighborhood-format retail, and “various other improvements.”

But dozens of residents of the low-slung Chinatown-meets-Lower East Side neighborhood, which has been a haven for immigrants and working-class communities for decades, spoke out against the buildings and said the improvements do not go far enough to protect the area.

City Council Member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer introduced a text amendment last year that would force the projects to go through the city’s land use review process. Because the Department of City Planning said the buildings would create only a “minor modification” to the neighborhood, under a broad zoning plan that had expired a decade prior, the development currently is not required to go through the uniform land use review procedure (ULURP).

The amendment would make the Two Bridges application into a special permit and activate the ULURP process.  In her testimony during the CPC hearing Wednesday, Chin said if approved, the “applications would destroy this neighborhood.”

“Through the dozens of personal testimonies we heard today from advocates and residents, there is no question that the impact of these enormous towers will be unprecedently destructive–and will go far beyond the City-block sized area they plan to build on,” Chin said in a statement following the hearing.

“To greenlight these proposals without a thorough community engagement process through ULURP would create a troubling precedent for vulnerable communities that are under siege by out-of-scale development.”

The CPC will accept public comments until Oct. 29 and then a final environmental impact study will be reviewed before a vote can be scheduled. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development must approve JDS Development’s plan because it involves relocating 19 residents in a senior housing project overseen by the federal government during construction.

[Via amNY]


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