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Upper West Side Megaproject Makes Its Biggest Enemy Yet

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The local community board thinks Extell's Riverside Center is a bad idea for the Upper West Side, and now Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer agrees. As part of the ULURP process, Stringer got to deliver a verdict on the five-tower, three-million-square-foot megaproject, but only in an advisory role. Meaningless or not (and it's not, because the City Council won't want to look like it's ignoring the concerns of the community), Stringer has announced his conditional disapproval of the project, and in explaining why, he pretty much tees off on the mixed-use monster of Riverside South, which will also include a school (controversy!), auto dealership, oodles of parking, lush fields o' frolicking and plenty more in its Christian de Portzamparc design. Even though Extell just pledged to up the affordable housing to 20% of the units, they were still given a tongue lashing, Stringer style!

Here's a chunk of the statement released by Stringer's office:

The Riverside Center proposal would replicate many of the same shortcomings and negative impacts as the Riverside South development. After careful consideration of the proposed actions, the Manhattan Borough President determined that the current Riverside Center proposal requires significant modification and that outstanding unmitigated environmental impacts must be addressed. While development at Riverside Center may be a generally welcomed addition to the community, that development must not overwhelm the surrounding neighborhood. “The Riverside Center development has the potential to either improve the neighborhood or to recreate the past mistakes of Riverside South,” said Borough President Stringer. “This is not about no development – it’s about appropriate and responsible development.”

While emphasizing that the “development of the [Riverside Center] site is desirable to the Upper West Side community,” the Borough President’s recommendations identifies several areas that necessitate improvement and modification. The current proposal lacks good site planning, creates inactive streetscapes, and obscures access to the proposed open space. Additionally, the proposed project has many environmental impacts that require real mitigations. The Borough President’s recommendation advocates for the inclusion of public amenities such as a public school of an appropriate size to meet the needs of the community and additional active recreational space. These, among other proposed modifications, are consistent with recommendations proposed by community members.

Political smackdown! But Extell isn't taking the diss lying down. A spokesman has already responded to the West Side Spirit, saying, and we'll paraphrase, "Eff that guy."
· Borough President Pans Riverside Center Plans [West Side Spirit]
· BP Stringer Throws Water on Riverside Center [Architects Newspaper]
· Riverside Center coverage [Curbed]