Lower East Side residents sue city to stop development of Two Bridges ‘megatowers’

March 22, 2019

Rendering via Handel Architects

A group of Lower East Side residents on Friday filed a lawsuit against New York City to stop three luxury developments planned for Two Bridges. The residents, who are being represented by the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors (LESON) and the Asian-American Legal Defense Fund, argue the new skyscrapers violate zoning rules meant to protect against out-of-scale development (h/t Bowery Boogie).

The lawsuit comes after the City Planning Commission approved the project late last year, which includes a 77-story tower at 247 Cherry Street developed by JDS Development, two 60-story towers at 260 South Street from L+M Partners and CIM Group, and a 724-foot tall building at 259 Clinton 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.

The new developments did not require a zoning change. And because the Department of City Planning determined the buildings would create only a “minor modification” to the neighborhood, the projects were not required to get City Council approval or go through the uniform land use review procedure (ULURP).

Just a few days after the city’s planning department approved the applications, the City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer filed a lawsuit claiming the CPC bypassed the Council’s authority regarding the land-use review process. A month later, the Council and Brewer updated their lawsuit to claim one of the towers violates a 32-year-old deed restriction that is meant to ensure housing for low-income residents with disabilities and the elderly, Curbed reported.

Residents filing the lawsuit Friday say the new developments also violate that same deed while also threatening the working class communities of Chinatown and the Lower East Side through increasing property values. The group is also concerned the skyscrapers will cast shadows that will reach past the Bowery “robbing an entire neighborhood of over five hours of sunlight.”

Zishun Ning, a representative for the locals filing the lawsuit, told amNY that construction will also bring air and noise pollution to the neighborhood. “This is a life-or-death situation,” Ning said. “We will not stand by to allow the mayor and the city destroy our lives and environment to enrich the developers.”

To mitigate some of the effects on the neighborhood, the developers promised investments in the community. This includes $40 million in upgrades to make the East Broadway station ADA-accessible, $15 million in public park upgrades, and “various other improvements,” as 6sqft reported in October.

In a statement to 6sqft, a spokesperson for the three projects called the lawsuit “baseless” and said the developers’ plan to invest in transit, housing, and infrastructure will provide lasting benefits to the neighborhood.

“Without our projects, all that investment goes away. We look forward to the swift resolution of this baseless lawsuit and to starting construction.”

[Via Bowery Boogie]


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