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Sutton Place rezoning could move forward, along with contested 800-foot tower

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The Planning Commission approved a neighborhood-backed rezoning, but added in a clause

The site of Gamma’s tower.
Via Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

The City Planning Commission and the City Council will likely be in disagreement over the future of Gamma Real Estate’s planned tower at 3 Sutton Place. The Planning Commission approved a neighborhood-created rezoning proposal, but also proposed a clause that would allow Gamma’s 800-foot residential tower to move forward as planned, Crain’s reports.

The proposed rezoning concerns a roughly 10-block stretch in the East 50s, next to the East River. Sutton Place residents were opposed to the scale of the Thomas Juul-Hansen-designed tower. While local residents aren’t opposed to more apartment buildings rising in the neighborhood, they want future towers to be on the same scale as the existing building stock.

The rezoning will create a “tower on base” principle, where about 45 to 50 percent of the building will be lower than 150 feet. Under that rezoning, Gamma’s project would easily been reduced in half.

While the Planning Commission was on board with regulating development in the Sutton Place area, they couldn’t get behind specifically targeting the Gamma project. The clause they proposed allows for projects already underway to be built based on the existing zoning laws. The vice chair of the Planning Commission, Kenneth Knuckles, explains the commission’s decision in the following statement:

Like many of my fellow Commissioners, I have questioned the effect this text would have on projects that are already underway in the affected area. I do not believe that land use applications should be wielded to stop individual developments. New York City's property owners have reasonable expectations of predictability that we should take into account. As with many area-wide text amendments that come before us, I believe it to be important that we include a grandfathering provision to ensure that property owners are not left in the lurch with rules that change midstream.

The neighborhood rezoning already has the backing of several elected officials, most notably City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. He has vowed to remove the City Planning-proposed clause when the project comes before the Council next month, so this tussle is far from over.