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Pols Push Back Against East River Condo Invasion

Two Bridges, Manhattan

Two Bridges

Extell's One Manhattan Square practically brushes against the Manhattan Bridge (image via Google Maps).

Jan. 22, 2018

In a move to block four more luxury condo towers along the East River in lower Manhattan, Borough President Gale Brewer and Lower East Side councilmember Margaret Chin have filed paperwork at the Department of City Planning for a zoning amendment that seeks to clarify land-use regulations, City Limits reports. If passed, the amendment will require developers to go through a more rigorous approval process, known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP. 

The de Blasio administration has argued that the developers only need “minor modifications” to the land-use regulations, and that the city can’t require them to go through ULURP, a seven-month process that gives the community board, borough president, and City Planning Commission an opportunity to weigh in on a developer’s proposal, with City Council given the ultimate vote. 

In October, Brewer and Chin contended that the four “large, out-of-scale development proposals are not ‘minor modifications’ to this area’s plan,” referring to the low-rise, moderate-income Two Bridges neighborhood along the East River. Extell’s One Manhattan Square, an 800-foot-tall glass behemoth that practically brushes against the Manhattan Bridge, has already topped out. 

Some neighborhood advocates want One Manhattan Square’s four proposed high-rise neighbors killed altogether, and they’ve criticized Chin for focusing on getting the projects to go through ULURP, which, they believe, will ultimately permit them to be built with meager benefits for the community. 

The developers have said the towers will include income-targeted housing with the help of the 421-a tax credit (now known as “Affordable New York”), as well as community amenities, but many residents are terrified that the development will gentrify the area, strain local infrastructure, and cast shadows on nearby buildings and parks.

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