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City pols propose bill to slow the rise of Two Bridges skyscrapers

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The three proposed towers may be subject to increased public scrutiny

Two Bridges waterfront skyscrapers Handel Architects

The trio of skyscrapers proposed for Two Bridges on the Lower East Side is facing another hurdle: City Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer plan to submit a formal application to the Department of City Planning that would slow down development, according to Politico.

Development plans include a tower from JDS Development Group that would exceed 1,000 feet and hold 660 units, 165 of which would be affordable; a 1.1 million-square-foot project from L+M Development Partners and CIM Group, with 1,350 units; and Starrett Development’s 724-foot building with 765 rentals units, 191 of them affordable.

The City Planning Commission determined last year that these major development plans would constitute only a "minor modification" to the Two Bridges area, governed by an overarching zoning plan that expired 10 years ago. Current rules allow for towers of these sizes to be built with little community input.

But Chin and Brewer's application would make the developers go through a complete land use review process. It comes as the result of another bill, which passed in late October, that allows borough presidents, council members, and city agencies to waive certain procedural requirements before submitting their own zoning text amendment.

Chin believes that, if approved, this bill would allow for more community involvement in the land use process across the city. "It's my hope that this legislation would help Two Bridges residents and groups across the city work more closely with their elected officials,” she said in a statement to Politico. “I will continue to advocate for more ways to strengthen the community's voice in the land use process.”

The Two Bridges towers have already faced plenty of local resistance. This fall, more than a hundred LES residents voiced their support for a new rezoning proposal that would potentially prevent the rise of the skyscrapers. Pols and community members have also been rallying against the existing planning process since the projects were announced last year.