Land Use kills grandfather clause exempting Gamma’s tower from rezoning

Measure heads to full City Council

Jonathan Kalikow, a rendering of Sutton 58 and Councilman David Greenfield
Jonathan Kalikow, a rendering of Sutton 58 and Councilman David Greenfield

The City Council Land Use Committee voted on Tuesday to remove a clause that would exempt Gamma Real Estate’s Sutton Place condo tower from a rezoning that would scale back the project.

The committee nearly unanimously (with one abstention) voted in favor of approving and modifying an application that will rezone 10 blocks on the Upper East Side. The committee decided against grandfathering Gamma’s Sutton 58, meaning that if the full Council agrees, the 800-foot tower will be subject to “tower on a base” standards.

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The City Planning Commission approved the rezoning last week but freed Gamma’s project from the new regulations. The committee’s decision follows a zoning and franchises subcommittee hearing held on Monday. Jonathan Kalikow, Gamma’s co-founder and president, testified that with or without the grandfather clause, the tower will be built. If the full council approves the land use committee’s changes, the developer will head to the Board of Standards and Appeals, which is expected to exempt the project from the new rezoning.

“This illegal spot zoning will not stop our building from being built,” Kalikow said in a statement on Tuesday. “Make no mistake – this is a purely political decision, which is purely for Council member [Ben] Kallos to save face before the handful of rich New Yorkers who live across from our building and oppose our development.”

Kallos and the East River Fifties Alliance, which filed the application, argue that the rezoning isn’t just about Gamma’s Planned Building On 58th Street but about preventing a low- to mid-rise residential neighborhood from being inundated with out-of-context supertalls.