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City Council May Try to Block Three East River Towers

Two Bridges, Manhattan

Two Bridges

The luxury condo tower One Manhattan Square may soon have three tall neighbors (image via Google Docs).

Dec. 6, 2018

Over the objections of many working-class neighborhood residents, the Manhattan borough president, and the speaker and local representative on the city council, the mayor-controlled city Planning Commission has give the green light to three controversial apartment towers along the East River in the Two Bridges neighborhood of Manhattan, Crain’s reports. The approval is likely to draw a lawsuit from the city council, which had pushed for a full citizen-review process, which would have been controlled by the city council rather than mayoral appointees. 

One tower is already standing next to the Manhattan Bridge. The Planning Commission has paved the way for three more that will bring 3,000 apartments to the low-rise, working-class neighborhood. About 700 of the apartments would be enrolled in the city’s affordable housing program. 

"In a city at peak population and bursting at the seams, adding significant amounts of new housing in Lower Manhattan is a truly rare opportunity," says Marisa Lago, chair of the Planning Commission, adding that officials were able to wring a number of community benefits out of the developers before signing off on the plans. 

But the approval process irked city councilwoman Margaret Chin and borough president Gale Brewer, who both argued that the project should have gone through the full public-review process. They based their argument on an interpretation of city density statutes that regulate land use. After the Planning Commission disagreed, Council speaker Corey Johnson and other elected officials vowed to look into a lawsuit to block the controversial towers.

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