Report: City Planning Temporarily Halts JDS Development’s Two Bridges Tower

247 Cherry St.. Rendering by SHoP Architects.
247 Cherry St.. Rendering by SHoP Architects.
247 Cherry St.. Rendering by SHoP Architects.

The Department of City Planning is putting a proposal for a thousand foot residential tower on hold until a long-running lawsuit is settled.

In April, JDS Development Group announced plans for the new project next door to Extell Development’s 80-story tower on the former Pathmark site in the Two Bridges area. The firm made a deal with Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund for unused air rights. Previously, the not-for-profit organizations were sued by developers Gary Spindler and Roy Schoenberg, who said the groups backed out of a separate development deal.

This afternoon, Crain’s reports:

The Department of City Planning has put the brakes on a nearly 1,000-foot-tall apartment tower in lower Manhattan. In a letter written last month, the department alerted JDS Development that it will not approve plans that would allow the builder to construct an 80-story rental building at 80 Rutgers Slip, on  the corner of Cherry Street, until a lawsuit involving a neighboring site is resolved. “It has come to our attention that rights to use the floor area required for this project is in dispute,” wrote Edith Hsu-Chen, the director of City Planning’s Manhattan office, in a letter to Michael Stern, the chief executive of JDS. Hsu-Chen said that JDS’ application for a minor modification to a previously approved neighborhood redevelopment plan would be placed “on hold” until pending litigation is resolved.

This past spring, Alexa Sewell, president of Settlement Housing Fund, told The Lo-Down, she was “100% certain we are going to prevail in (the lawsuit), so we’re moving ahead with this plan (with JDS Development).”

More to come…

UPDATE 3:34 p.m. A spokesperson for the Department of City Planning confirms the parties in the pending lawsuit have been notified that the city will not move forward with any applications until the legal dispute is resolved.

About two weeks ago, City Council member Margaret Chin and other elected officials sent a letter to the Department of City Planning asking for a “major modification” rather than a “minor modification” of the Two Bridges Large-Scale Development Plan. There are several mega-towers planned in the immediate area. Taken together, they have caused significant concerns in the local community about infrastructure and out-od-scale development. A major modification would trigger a ULURP, the city’s land use procedure — and set in motion a more robust community planning process. Council member Chin has not yet received a response regarding her letter.

Trever Holland is tenant association president of the Two Bridges Tower, a building adjacent to the JDS development site. This afternoon, he told us:

We are pleased that city planning has put the brakes on this monster tower and hope that the request for a full ULURP for the proposed developments is ultimately decided. Developers are battling to build a total of 4 towers on the Rutgers Slip block alone and the residents are the ones that have to pay the price. We hope that city planning and our local officials are listening to voices of our community and examine the full impact of an additional 4000 apartments within 1 or 2 city blocks.

We have contacted JDS Development for its response. This story will be updated if/when we receive that.

UPDATE 4:26 p.m.  A spokesperson for Settlement Housing Funding said, “We are working to clear up any questions and are confident both that the application will move forward consistent with DCP procedures and that the pending litigation will be resolved in our favor.”

One additional note. When asked whether the decision to place applications on hold applied to Council member Chin’s request, a City Planning spokesperson said that nothing would be moving forward until the lawsuit is settled.