Had a developer proposed building a megatower in the middle of a narrow tree-lined street anywhere else in the five boroughs, he’d be laughed clear across the nearest river. But the small piece of Manhattan encompassing most of the 50s, east of First Avenue, is the only residential area in the city with no height limits on buildings. None at all.
Hence, Gamma Real Estate’s plan to shoehorn a ludicrous spike smack into the middle of E. 58th Street, just off First. Although the Kalikow family is trying to portray its massive project as a done deal, it is not quite.
The East River 50s Alliance (ERFA) has submitted a sophisticated rezoning plan for the neighborhood that would impose sane height limits on new construction while promoting more affordable housing than Mayor de Blasio would require under current rules.
ERFA held a packed town hall meeting this morning to engage more residents in the fight against the megatower. Speakers included Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilman Dan Garodnick, Councilman Ben Kallos and New York State Sen. Liz Krueger. All pledged their support for ERFA’s rezoning plan.
But here is the mystery: ERFA submitted its plan two months ago to City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod, but has yet to receive a response. It is the commissioner’s job to certify an application as complete. Once that happens, it goes through a formal review process involving the Community Board (CB6 in this case), the Manhattan borough president, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.
But it’s been radio silence from Weisbrod (and his boss de Blasio).
This has made many in this 30,000-person community worried that (to use the harsh term) the fix is in. Adding to suspicions is the ongoing investigation of de Blasio for allegedly trading favors for donations from real estate interests.
New Yorkers in both rich and less-rich neighborhoods have joined in the fear that their quality of life is up for sale. A tip of the hat to Inwood Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez for stopping a luxury development masquerading as an affordable housing plan.
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