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Good Old Lower East Side Comes Out Against New Two Bridges Tower (Updated)

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Rendering shows new Two Bridges tower in context with the surrounding East River waterfront; ShoP Architects.
Rendering shows new Two Bridges tower in context with the surrounding East River waterfront; ShoP Architects.

Here’s a statement we received a short time ago from Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), the neighborhood advocacy organization, about the new 77-story tower planned in the Two Bridges area. It was submitted last night during the land use committee meeting of Community Board 3.

GOLES has a long history of commitment to the provision and preservation of affordable and senior housing for the people of the Lower East Side. Upon a careful review of the recently proposed Two Bridges Tower with our steering committee, members, and stakeholders, GOLES has determined several key concerns that lead us to call on Community Board 3 to reject any minor modification application associated with the site.

First, the process around the proposed Two Bridges Tower occurred with virtually no community input, despite the many impacts this tower and its construction will have on local residents. In particular, residents of both 80 and 82 Rutgers have been significantly impacted by the ongoing construction of the Extell Tower, resulting in infrastructure issues like cracking walls and ceilings, and misaligned windows, doors, and locks. In addition, local residents were wary of available sunlight living in the shadow of yet another luxury tower. Also, the proposed construction allows for the potential relocation of seniors living at 80 Rutgers, along with the temporary demolition of a community center on Cherry Street.

Second, the Lower East Side and its waterfront has been increasingly targeted for aggressive development and gentrification. The Extell Tower that displaced Pathmark stands as a clear example. The prospect of further luxury development will only accelerate the community’s gentrification, and exacerbate the already dire need for truly affordable housing. The Two Bridges Tower proposes only 25% of its units be affordable, in the range of 60-90% AMI, making it unaffordable to the majority of Low Income and Extremely Low Income residents on the Lower East Side in need of real affordable housing.

Finally, as both Extell, and the proposed Two Bridges Tower show us, the Lower East Side’s waterfront is increasingly being targeted for luxury development, with future towers likely in the works. On this end, we look to CB3 to engage with the Chinatown Working Group’s rezoning plan as a way of ensuring responsible development on the waterfront happens with true engagement from its residents.

We call on Community Board 3 to support the wishes of the community and to reject any minor modification applications for Two Bridges Tower, and to pass a resolution to that effect for the Dept. of City Planning. We also look to CB3 for unity on the CWG Rezoning plan to push for the protections this neighborhood needs.

The Lower East Side cannot — and will not — accept further luxury development at the expense of the needs of its community!

On April 27, JDS Development and SHoP Architects announced plans for the new project at 247 Cherry St. It will include 600 units of rental housing (150 of those apartments will be affordable). Two not-for-profit groups – Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund — have sold development rights to JDS for the project. The developers have said that they will seek a “minor modification” of the Two Bridges Large-Scale Development Plan. They are expected to appear before Community Board 3 sometime over the summer to discuss the proposal for the Cherry Street site. The community board will be asked to issue an advisory opinion. Approval by the Department of City Planning is required.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the developers were not necessarily obligated to seek the support of the community board. Changes were made after we heard from a spokesperson for the development team.

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