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Two Bridges lawsuit overturned following several legal battles

Protesters against the Two Bridges Luxury Towers compared Mayor Bill de Blasio to President Donald Trump at a rally on Jan. 18th.
Photo by Dean Moses

After several legal battles, the court overturned the lawsuit that halted developers from proceeding to build four mega towers in the Two Bridges neighborhood of Lower Manhattan on Feb. 16.

The unanimous decision, made Tuesday, deemed that the city did not need to justify the rezoning of the project, since it falls under the purview of the reasonable interpretation by the Department of City Planning.

Since the inception of this project, local residents have pushed back with the argument that it will harm those living in the community due to upzoning.

The Lower East Side Organized Neighbors and the Coalition to Project Chinatown have been battling for over four years to prevent the installation of three luxury high-rise “megatowers” through protests, organized meetings, and lawsuits.

The state Appellate Court ruling dealt a hard blow to the groups’ prevention efforts. Despite this, they say they will continue to fight the planned construction.

“We remember when four years ago, Councilmember Margaret Chin told us these out-of-scale towers were a done deal and there was nothing to be done to stop them. We were able to find out that the City violated its zoning law to approve the towers that would significantly displace the community and damage the neighborhood environment,” according to a joint statement from the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors and the Coalition to Project Chinatown. “We have stood up to our Councilmember, our Speaker, and our Borough President when they filed a phony lawsuit, which seeks to approve the towers through another process and actually undermined our chances at victory in the court. We have stood up to Mayor de Blasio and his displacement agenda funded by these developers. We have stood up to groups that try to divide the community with Misinformation Our strategy to stop the towers has never singularly relied on the court, because we do not expect the City to stand up to developers. Our victories in delaying the towers have been won by the thousands of people we have done outreach to and brought into our fight.” 

The groups say they have the support of the people behind them, with this in mind they are spurred forward.      

“The community gathered over 5,000 signatures not just in support of our lawsuit, but in support of the immediate passage of the entire Chinatown Working Group Plan. The Lower East Side and Chinatown deserve the protection granted to the East Village, and now this demand is even more urgent as we see the passage of the Plan as the only way to stop these towers, and all future towers that might cause displacement, permanently. We are currently exploring our next steps for legal action, but every day we continue to organize and fight against displacement and for the full plan,” the statement said.

A spokesperson for Two Bridges applauded the court’s decision in a statement:

“We applaud the court’s decision, which confirms what we’ve said all along: these projects were lawfully approved and comply with zoning that’s been in place for more than 30 years. Private investments in affordable housing and essential community infrastructure are critical as the city emerges from the pandemic, and these projects will deliver a range of meaningful and lasting benefits for the Two Bridges neighborhood, including one of Manhattan’s largest infusions of new affordable housing in decades. We appreciate the court’s careful review and look forward to moving ahead with these important projects for the city’s recovery.”  

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