Officials move to stall towers planned for Two Bridges

An application for a text amendment was filed

From left: Margaret Chin, Gale Brewer and a rendering of 247 Cherry Street
From left: Margaret Chin, Gale Brewer and a rendering of 247 Cherry Street

In the latest step to rein in large-scale development on the Lower East Side’s waterfront, two city officials are trying to force certain projects to go through the lengthy land use review process.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council member Margaret Chin proposed a zoning text amendment that would require certain projects in Two Bridges to receive a special permit, which would force the developments to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), the officials announced on Thursday.

If it were to pass, the amendment could drastically slow the development of four towers proposed by some of the city’s most established developers. JDS Development Group is planning a 79-story tower at 247 Cherry Street, and a joint venture between L+M Development Partners and CIM Group are building a pair of 62- and 26-story towers at 260 South Street. Starrett Development is also planning a 62-story building at 259 Clinton Street. Each of the projects will feature an affordable housing component.

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“In order to turn the tide against out-of-control overdevelopment across our city, we need to act decisively and close loopholes that would allow for the construction of out-of-scale luxury towers without a robust and transparent public review,” Chin said a statement.

The rezoning application has been expected for some time. City Planning rejected an earlier request to force the three planned projects to go through ULURP, but a related city council bill that was approved in October paved the way for the officials to file the application without going through the pre-application process. Politico reported in December that Brewer and Chin were preparing the draft text amendment.

This is the first time in roughly 15 years that a zoning text amendment has been filed solely by elected officials, Brewer said in Thursday’s announcement. In November, however, the council approved a zoning change to a 10-block area on the Upper West Side. The change was initiated by a neighborhood group that was co-founded by Council member Ben Kallos.

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