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Two Bridges skyscrapers to begin public review as locals, pols call for more time

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The City Planning Commission is expected to certify the projects today, entering them into a two-month public review

In the foreground is a body of water. In the distance are multiple tall skyscrapers and smaller city buildings. SHoP Architects

UPDATE 6/25/2018: The City Planning Commission has agreed to postpone a public hearing on the environmental review for the trio of skyscrapers set to rise in Two Bridges, the Lo-Down reports. The meeting would have taken place in early September, but since the local community board is on vacation in the month of August, the board would have had almost no time to review the draft environmental review released by the Planning Commission last week.

The public meeting will now take place on October 17, which will give Manhattan Community Board 3 all of September to review the proposal, including the next few weeks in the lead up to the board’s summer break. A spokesperson for the developers informed Curbed that the they too wanted to postpone the public hearing for the project, so in the end both sides were in concurrence over the need for more community input. Read on below for the full background on these developments.

Later today, the City Planning Commission is expected to certify a trio of skyscrapers in the Two Bridges section of the Lower East Side, setting of a two-month long public review process for developments that have faced stiff opposition from local residents and politicians.

These skyscrapers will however not be subject to the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) since the developers don’t require a rezoning to move forward. Instead a certification by the City Planning Commission will allow Manhattan Community Board 3 60 days to review these projects and respond to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, released by the Planning Commission on Friday.

Some of the concerns the environmental impact statement identified include the impact these towers will have on the area’s existing open space, the burden they could place on the existing child care facilities, and on Two Bridge’s only grocery store, according to Politico, which first reported on the release of the Draft EIS.

Local residents and politicians meanwhile are looking to stop these towers in their tracks. While the developers have hosted four public meetings on their projects between December 2016 and the summer of 2017, local pols are arguing that residents won’t have enough time to review the draft EIS. While Manhattan Community Board 3 has 60 days to respond, it will go on its summer break in just 17 days.

Today, a group of residents led by City Council Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will hold a rally that kicks off from Two Bridges and goes to the City Planning building at 22 Reade Street to protest the developments. Last week, the Council member and the Borough President sent a joint letter to City Planning Chair Marissa Lago to delay certifying the application so the local community could have more time to study the impact of the developments.

Following the release of the draft EIS, the group of developers—comprised of JDS Development Group, Starrett Corporation, and L+M Development Partners with CIM Group—have committed to several neighborhood improvements.

These include a new entrance to the East Broadway F train at Rutgers and Madison streets, and improvements (worth $40 million) that will make the station ADA-accessible for the first time; upgrades and improvements to the Coleman, Captain Jacob Joseph, and Little Flower playgrounds worth $15 million; streetscape improvements that will connect Clinton and South Streets to the waterfront at Piers 35 and 42; and several flood resiliency measures for the neighborhood.

As plans stand right now, JDS will build a 1,008-foot rental at 247 Cherry Street, L+M and CIM will build a 798 and 728-foot tower at 260 South Street, and Starrett will build a 724-foot tower at 259 Clinton Street. Together these developments will bring a total of approximately 3,000 apartments to the neighborhood, of which 700 units will be affordable.

“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with elected officials and other local stakeholders and to discussing these substantial upgrades as the formal public review process gets underway,” the group of developers said in a prepared statement.

Following the 60-day review period after the certification, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the projects. The agency will then create a final environmental impact statement and vote on the developments.