City Begins Review of Brewer/Chin Proposal to Require ULURP in Two Bridges Area

Elected officials with residents and advocates in the Two Bridges neighborhood; June 2018.

Elected officials with residents and advocates in the Two Bridges neighborhood; June 2018.

Local elected officials this week filed an application for a zoning text amendment and an Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) with the city that could potentially put the brakes on three mega-projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood.

The documents were submitted to the Department of City Planning on Wednesday by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin. The text amendment would require a special permit for modifications of the Two Bridges Large-Scale Residential Development Plan.

The developers – JDS Development Group, a partnership between L+M Development Partners and the CIM Group and the Starrett Group – envision four towers reaching as high as 80 stories and adding 2,775 apartments to the area. The city rejected a request from Council member Chin to subject the massive projects to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which would have required City Council approval.  DCP ruled that the buildings amounted to “minor modification” of the large-scale plan. The City Planning Commission will unilaterally rule whether the projects will move forward; elected officials have no official way of influencing the decision.

Rendering shows Two Bridges waterfront with several proposed large-scale buildings. Credit: SHoP Architects.

Rendering shows Two Bridges waterfront with several proposed large-scale buildings. Credit: SHoP Architects.

If special permits are required, the city would have no choice but to order a ULURP. That process would mean more robust community engagement, and would give Chin some leverage to negotiate. She could push, for example, to reduce the size of the towers or to add more affordable housing, in exchange for her support in the Council. Brewer and Chin first notified the city that they’d be submitting a text amendment last October. It’s taken time to actually file the documents because the city required the elected officials to complete an environmental review.  That project was undertaken by the City Council’s land use team.

Time is of the essence. The City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Oct. 17 on the developers’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Brewer and Chin hope the commission will essentially hit the “reset” button on the public review process. Community Board 3 will hold a hearing on the Brewer/Chin proposal in September.

A spokesperson with the Department of City Planning tells The Lo-Down both documents have been received, and that a review has begun. A referral into public review will begin, we’re told, when the application and environmental review documents have been deemed complete by the agency.

Meanwhile, the current public review process is moving forward. CB3 will hold a public hearing on the Draft EIS Tuesday, Aug. 14, 6:30 p.m. at M.S. 131, 100 Hester St.