On Wednesday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Lower East Side councilmember Margaret Chin took the next step in their ongoing battle to require four luxury towers proposed for the Two Bridges neighborhood of the Lower East Side to submit to full public review. The elected officials filed paperwork at the Department of City Planning for a zoning text amendment that seeks to clarify the land use regulations governing the Two Bridges area of the Lower East Side waterfront. That change, if passed, will require the developers to go through a more thorough approval process.
Thanks to the recent passage of a law sponsored by Chin that allows elected officials to expedite the ULURP process by exempting certain elected officials from the Department’s pre-application filing and meeting requirements, Chin and Brewer’s application will move right to “technical review” and then to ULURP for approval, according to a press release. Speediness is crucial to ensure the developers don’t get their approvals first.
The officials have long argued that the developers of the towers, who seek changes to the special regulations governing the land, should be required to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) the seven-month process through which the community board, borough president, and City Planning Commission each have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal, with City Council given the ultimate vote. As City Limits previously reported, the de Blasio administration has argued that the developers only need “minor modifications” to the land use regulations and that the city can’t require them to go through ULURP.
In October, the officials submitted a draft of the zoning amendment application, which will, as stated in a press release, “clarify that large, out-of-scale development proposals are not ‘minor modifications’ to this area’s plan and would require full public review under ULURP.’” On Wednesday, they officially filed paperwork at the Department of City Planning.
This is only one of a range of strategies underway to require more public input on the towers or halt them altogether. Some neighborhood advocates want the towers killed altogether and have criticized Chin for focusing on getting the projects to go through ULURP, which they believe will only result in meager benefits for the community.
The developers have said the towers will include income-targeted housing with the help of the 421-a tax credit (now known as “Affordable New York”), as well as community amenities, but many residents are terrified that the development will gentrify the area, strain local infrastructure and cast shadows on nearby buildings and parks.