City Rejects Request For Full-Scale Land Use Process in Two Bridges Area

247 Cherry St. (right) alongside Extell's One Manhattan Square. Rendering by SHoP Architects.

247 Cherry St. (right) alongside Extell’s One Manhattan Square. Rendering by SHoP Architects.

The Department of City Planning (DCP) has turned down a request from several elected officials for a ULURP in the Two Bridges area. The rejection dashed the hopes of local residents, who have been battling to exercise some control over a real estate development frenzy along the East River.

City Council member Margaret Chin called on the city to mandate its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for three new mega-towers.  That process would have required developers to go through the local community board and the borough president, and to win the approval of the City Council. Several other local elected representatives signed on to a June 22 letter to Carl Weisbrod, director of City Planning.

In a response dated yesterday, August 11, Weisbrod wrote, “I agree that the development contemplated here is significant when each proposed development is considered individually, and that the potential impacts to the surrounding neighborhood require unique consideration when the three proposed projects are assessed cumulatively.” But because the proposed changes (to the Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Development plan) “will not require any new waivers or zoning actions,” Weisbrod added, his agency is considering them “minor modifications”  as opposed to “major modifications.” Bottom line: There will be no ULURP.

Nevertheless, he said, the Department of City Planning, “is committed to working with you closely as we review the applications for these developments.” The city will require the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement “in conjunction with these applications and are pleased that the applicants have agreed to a coordinated review of the proposals…”

Weisbrod told the elected officials, “We are committed to ensuring that the proposed projects are reviewed in accordance with urban design principles that result in, among other things, an improved streetscape and pedestrian condition along both South Street and Cherry Street and attention to the relationship between existing and new buildings on the project sites.” Finally, he wrote, “We will also closely examine the affect the proposed buildings will have on light and air in the surrounding area, as well as the neighborhood consequences related to increased density (such as the need for schools), among many other factors.”

This afternoon, Council member Chin released the following statement:

We are disappointed by the decision not to treat this as a major modification to the Large Scale plan, but are encouraged by the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement that will address the cumulative impact of these planned developments in the Two Bridges neighborhood. We look forward to working with City Planning, other elected officials, and the community to mitigate the impacts of development, and to make sure the community’s voices are heard.

This past spring, JDS Development Group announced plans for a 77-story rental tower on a parcel at 247 Cherry St. Pre-application statements filed with the city revealed proposals from two other development consortiums. L+M Development and the CIM Group are envisioning a residential and commercial complex at 260 South St. encompassing more than one-million square feet. Meanwhile, the Starrett Corp. is looking at a putting up a 60-story building with 741 apartments at 271-283 South St. These projects are set to join Extell Development’s 80-story luxury tower on the former Pathmark site.

Below you can see Weisbrod’s full response and the original letter from the elected officials to DCP.  More to come…