Two elected officials are challenging the construction of three skyscrapers on the Two Bridges waterfront.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilwoman Margaret Chin are concerned about the scale of the developments, which range from 62 to 77 stories and are to be within blocks of each other between South Street, Cherry Street, Montgomery Street and Pike Slip.
The two politicians filed an application to the Department of City Planning on Oct. 12 for a zoning amendment that would require a special permit before construction can begin. If the amendment is passed, the developers would have to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Process, which includes approval from the community board, the borough president and City Council.
The planning department ruled in 2016 that the developments — a 77-story building at 247 Cherry St., a 62-story building at 259 Clinton St. and a building with two towers, one 62 stories, the other 69 stories, at 260 South St. — were exempt from the review process because they were “minor modifications” to the area. The agency issued a joint environmental review to access the buildings’ impacts on the area.
Brewer and Chin argue that the skyscrapers are more than “minor modifications” to a neighborhood they describe as affordable and diverse.
“When you look at the Two Bridges community and the way these massive towers would loom over it, you can’t help but understand that ‘minor modification’ has lost its meaning and we need clearer rules,” Brewer said in a statement.
“These out-of-scale buildings threaten to displace hardworking residents, bring forth irreversible environmental hazards, and accelerate gentrification, which would endanger the very fabric of the Two Bridges community,” Chin said in her statement.
Housing advocates and community members have also expressed disapproval. Some gathered outside the planning department’s Manhattan office in August, calling for more review of the towers.
The DCP was reviewing the application, a spokesman said.
The developers of the three towers — JDS Development Group (247 Cherry St.), Starrett Corporation (259 Clinton St.), and L+M Development Partners and CIM Group (260 South St.) — committed to making 25 percent of the units in each building affordable housing, resulting in nearly 700 permanently affordable apartments, a spokesman said.
“We fully intend to formalize that commitment before the conclusion of the approval process,” the spokesman said. “We appreciate that the current process has provided multiple opportunities for robust community input, including through four productive feedback sessions and ongoing discussions with neighborhood leaders. We will look forward to continuing that dialogue, and to discussing the substantial upgrades proposed for neighborhood flood resiliency, open space and retail opportunities with local stakeholders as the process moves forward.”