Not-so-high hopes


Make text smaller Make text larger


Sutton Place community rallies for a “race against time”


Photos



  • A rendering of a Sutton Place tower proposed in 2015 that would have been among the tallest in Manhattan.




  • How the Sutton Place tower would have stacked up, in an image distributed by the developer.



Residents of Sutton Place, the neighborhood between First Avenue and the East River from 53rd to 59th Streets, are pinning their hopes on Marisa Lago, the incoming director of the Department of City Planning. When Lago’s tenure begins on March 1, her desk could be piled high with objections from the community to the proposed construction of an 850-foot luxury residential tower at 430 East 58th Street.

“I think there’s nothing better than getting a shitload of letters before you even start,” Borough President Gale Brewer told attendees of a town hall on Friday, Feb. 10, encouraging them to raise their voices. “It is necessary to make sure the advocacy is there.” Approximately 80 people gathered in the Skytop Lounge of the Plaza 400 to hear updates on the tower’s progress, sign a petition and donate to the cost of opposing it.

After plans for the tower were announced in 2015, neighbors sprang into action to form the East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA). The group hired planners and consultants to help develop a zoning text amendment that would limit building heights to 260 feet, as well as requesting more affordable housing, which the Alliance filed to the Department of City Planning this past December. “ERFA is proposing a contextual district that would prevent supertowers through height limits, and would provide greater incentives for affordable housing, and design controls for wide buildings,” the application reads. It cited, as inspiration for the zoning text amendment, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “mandate to make all of New York City a diverse and balanced community.” The Department of City Planning has yet to certify the group’s application as complete so that it may begin undergoing the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Meanwhile, the Sutton Place tower has been beset by issues — both financial and social — since the beginning, and was sold to Gamma Real Estate at a foreclosure auction this past December. In January, the plans to move forward with construction were rejected by the Department of Buildings as incomplete, though a spokesperson for the agency told DNAinfo at the time that this was not unusual for new building permits.

With both the rezoning application and the Sutton place plans currently stalled, it is now a question of what will be approved first. “We are all in a race against time,” Lisa Mercurio, the Alliance’s director of communications, said at the town hall. “We believe we’ve filed a complete application, and frankly we can’t understand why this process is taking so long. If the foundation is poured for [the tower] before the zoning law can be amended, it’s game over.”

Brewer suggested that the city planning commission’s concern was setting a precedent, which she called “a ridiculous reason” not to approve the community’s application. Zoning tends to be regulated by the city, and the efforts of the East River Fifties neighborhoods to determine its own fate are rare. Brewer was joined at the town hall by State Senator Liz Krueger, Council Member Ben Kallos and Council Member Dan Garodnick, who expressed their unwavering support for the Alliance’s proposed zoning text amendment.

Kallos, who has secured several stop work orders against the construction already underway on the project, assured residents that he would continue fighting the developers at every turn. “We will be there as a community to stop them,” he said. The East River Fifties residents will likely be some of the first New Yorkers to schedule an appointment with Lago when she takes office in March.

Madeleine Thompson can be reached at newsreporter@strausnews.com


Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments



MUST READ NEWS

Image Four openings and a funeral
The 38-year-old Westside Market is leaving its cozy if cramped space on Broadway and 77th Street, but the grocer plans to open four new Manhattan stores
Image Forks and fashion
SVA students created offbeat designs made out of silverware, pennies and tea bags and for a Madison Avenue BID event
Image Measuring bike safety
Stats show drop in East Side cyclist and pedestrian injuries
Image Raising the roof at Chapin
The elite East Side girls’ school has embarked on its second skyward expansion in 10 years to fulfill its academic mission and keep students “under one roof”...
Image A monumental achievement
A century after women won the right to vote in New York and Central Park will get its first monument dedicated to real women.

VIDEOS



E-NEWSLETTER

Sign up to get our newsletter emailed to you every week!

  • Enter your email address in the box below.
  • Select the newsletters you would like to subscribe to.
  • Click the 'SUBSCRIBE' button.

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters


MOST READ

Local News
Making a Splash in Times Square
  • Nov 15, 2017
City Arts News
Contemplating the divine
  • Nov 17, 2017
Local News
Four openings and a funeral
  • Nov 17, 2017
Local News
Up to code
  • Nov 15, 2017
Local News
Raising the roof at Chapin
  • Nov 13, 2017
Local News
Messing with my mom’s legacy
  • Nov 14, 2017
Local News
Measuring bike safety
  • Nov 14, 2017
Columns\Op-Ed
By any other name
  • Nov 15, 2017
Local News
When bad drugs do good
  • Nov 14, 2017
City Arts News
The long road to a masterpiece
  • Nov 15, 2017

MOST COMMENTED