New court ruling may mean more delays for Lower East Side’s Two Bridges megaproject

July 18, 2019

A recent ruling by a panel of state appellate judges may add more delays–at the very least–to the rise of JDS Development Group’s proposed addition to the multi-tower Two Bridges development on the Lower East Side/Chinatown waterfront, The City reports. The ruling states that the property’s long-term leaseholder, Little Cherry LLC, which has 25 years left on their lease at the currently-vacant 235 Cherry Street, must have a say in how the property’s development rights are used. The developer plans to stack a 1,000-foot, 100-story waterfront apartment tower on top of and cantilevered over the Two Bridges Senior Apartments and one-story retail space–and they need the Cherry Street property’s development rights to move forward.

Little Cherry’s attorney, Raymond Hannigan, says JDS principal Michael Stern “can’t build his megaproject without getting our client’s consent. And we’re refusing to give our consent.”

A JDS spokesperson has said the recent order will not change building plans and that neither the case nor the ruling will impact the development “in any meaningful way.” She said the company will “continue to defend the case vigorously.”

The latest development–or lack thereof–comes on the heels of another recent court decision. As 6sqft previously reported, State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron extended last month a temporary halt on the Two Bridges high-rise development last month after hearing testimony on several lawsuits aimed at the controversial project.

Community organizations had filed a lawsuit against the city to stop the four skyscrapers from rising in the Lower Manhattan neighborhood. The lawsuits accuse the city of illegally approving the multi-billion dollar project, claiming the City Planning Commission bypassed City Council authority regarding the land-use review process and that one of the towers violates a 32-year-old deed restriction that ensures housing for low-income residents with disabilities and the elderly.

In January, the Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sued the city and the project’s developers for circumventing the land use review process and the final City Council approval that it requires. The judge’s final ruling for that case is expected in August at the latest.

Opponents of the JDS tower claim the July 9 ruling gives Little Cherry enough leverage to “basically say no to this building” according to neighborhood activist Trever Holland of Tenants United Fighting for the Lower East Side (TUFF-LES). Holland believes the lawsuit will result in a financial settlement between Little Cherry and JDS, but will delay plans for the tower, giving local groups more time to develop their own plan–which does not include more skyscrapers–for the area.

A group of Lower East Side organizations is hoping to complete an application to change the area’s zoning rules so that all new buildings would be capped at 350 feet–about 35 stories–and would require that half of any residential units be affordable. Under the older zoning rules, the four planned Two Bridges Towers would rise 70 or more stories and have 20 percent of units set aside as affordable housing.

[Via The City]


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