Lower East Side residents sue city to stop controversial Two Bridges development

Case follows previous petition from City Council against project
By Mary Diduch | March 22, 2019 02:30PM

Four organizations and five residents filed a petition Friday,  alleging that the approval of the Two Bridges development was illegal (Credit: Curbed NY and iStock)

A group of residents and local organizations are pushing back on a new set of residential development in Two Bridges, a controversial project that would bring four skyscrapers and thousands of apartments to the Lower East Side neighborhood.

Four organizations and five residents filed a petition Friday against the city, the City Planning Commission, the Department of Buildings and the Department of City Planning, alleging the approval of the towers was illegal. AM New York first reported the news of the suit, which follows a petition filed by the City Council also against the project’s approval process.

Late last year, the city granted approval to JDS Development, L+M Development, CIM Group and Starrett Corporation to build rental towers at 247 Cherry Street, 260 South Street and 259 Clinton Street. Together, the towers would bring 2,775 units to the neighborhood.

But the groups want a judge to rule the approval as illegal, in part because they say the proposed modifications to the developments violate the zoning resolution that governs large-scale residential developments. The agencies also allegedly did not take into account the project’s adverse impacts, particularly regarding gentrification and displacement, according to the filing.

“Ultimately we don’t want these towers to come up,” said Zishun Ning, a member of one of the petitioning groups, the Lower East Side Organization. “I think that’s a very strong sentiment in the community.”

The thousands of extra units to the neighborhood will drive up rents and real estate taxes and escalate displacement in the neighborhood, Ning said. The projects also will have negative environmental impacts, he said.

“The city stands by its review and approvals for this project which is expected to add hundreds of affordable housing units and improve transit infrastructure for the community. We will review the case when we are served,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.

A spokesman for the developers, who aren’t defendants in the suit, in a statement said that the project would create about 700 units of permanently affordable housing, filling a need in the city. The development also would add $40 million in upgrades to the East Broadway subway station to make it ADA-accessible, $12.5 million in repairs to the local New York City Housing Authority complex and $15 million in upgrades to three neighborhood public parks. “Without our projects, all that investment goes away. We look forward to the swift resolution of this baseless lawsuit and to starting construction,” the statement said.

The City Council in December filed a complaint against the Department of City Planning, the City Planning Commission and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration on the grounds that by approving the project, the executive branch bypassed the City Council’s authority on land-use matters. That case is pending.