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Proposed Sutton Place rezoning would stymie affordable housing: city

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City Planning Commission’s early verdict on the rezoning is not promising

The former design for the sutton place tower
Rendering by Foster+Partners via Bauhouse Group

Earlier this week, Midtown East residents officially submitted a rezoning proposal to the City Planning Commission to limit the height of buildings around the planned 700-foot tower at 3 Sutton Place.

While the Planning Commission will officially certify the application in the next two weeks, the early news does not appear to bode well for the group leading the rezoning charge, The East River 50s Alliance.

Politico reports (h/t The Real Deal) that the Planning Commission isn’t exactly on board with this proposal. The Alliance submitted a revised proposal after the Planning Commission criticized the first iteration for ignoring the affordable housing needs of the community, and for proposing height restrictions that were incongruous with the existing buildings in the proposed area, according to Politico.

The East River 50s Alliance’s proposal concerns an area bounded by First Avenue and Sutton Place and East 51 and 59th Streets. Their proposal calls to limit the height on buildings to between 210 to 260 feet, and to ensure that at least 20 percent of a new residential building’s apartments are affordable.

The group also asked to limit any commercial development in the area unless it is an establishment dedicated to “community uses” like a medical office or a daycare center. Their proposal has received the backing of several elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Gamma Real Estate, the firm developing the Thomas Juul-Hansen-designed skyscraper on the site, told Politico that the folks arguing against their development are actually residents of one of the neighborhood’s high rises, and want to protect their views.

While the rezoning application particularly targets the building at 3 Sutton Place, the Alliance is using it as a broader tool to control development in their neighborhood.

"This is a new attempt to broaden a zoning text amendment process to do things outside (the typical land use process), and we think it's a worrisome phenomenon," John Banks, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, told Politico.