Alan Kersh Statement against 58th Street Megatower

The following statement was presented by community member Alan Kersh, on behalf of the larger Far East 50s community, against the proposed Sutton Place Megatower at East 58th Street. Sign the petition.

KERSH STATEMENT AT CB6 LAND USE COMMITTEE MEETING 5-6-15

Good evening. My name is Alan Kersh and I am speaking on behalf of the Boards of Directors of the many residential coops in the Far East 50’s. For reasons I will substantiate below, we respectfully ask this land use committee to take the following actions:

  1. First, please examine the aberrational mid-block R10 zoning that currently exists between 52nd and 59th Streets, east of First Avenue. Given the purely residential characteristics and overall scale of the Far East 50’s neighborhood, we believe that the R10 designation – which significantly differs from the zoning designations of other residential neighborhoods in Manhattan – places the well being of our residents in immediate jeopardy. We therefore request that the committee act immediately. Time is of the essence.
  2. Second, we ask this committee to recommend to the full Board that CB6 strongly advocate to the City Planning Commission to appropriately rezone the mid-block streets from 52nd to 59th Streets, east of First Avenue, to zoning classification R8 or R8B, in the shortest possible time frame.
  3. Finally, we ask that the land use committee recommend an immediate moratorium against the issuance of new construction permits for super-tall mid-block towers in the Far East 50’s while the City Planning Commission considers and processes the necessary zoning changes.

As you can see from tonight’s turnout, residents of our buildings have been shocked to learn that a 900-foot condominium tower is being planned mid-block on the south side of 58th street between Sutton Place and First Avenue at 426-432 East 58th Street.

The developer claims to have a right to construct this mega-tower on a narrow side street without public review because our area is zoned R10. As this committee is well aware, a very broad swathe of the Far East 50’s - from the east side of First Avenue to the East River and from 52nd Street all the way up to 59th Street – is zoned R10. Such a broad R10 designation is entirely unique in all of Manhattan. We ask, isn’t the R10 zoning totally incompatible at this point in time with the mix of historic town houses, walk-ups, tenements and typical post-war apartment buildings that exist in our neighborhood and contribute to the unique character and diverse resident profile of the Sutton area? This wide ranging R10 zoning designation is inconsistent with residential areas throughout Manhattan which are almost invariably zoned R8 or less on the side streets while maintaining higher zoning on the avenues. We believe that whatever rationale may have led to the designation of our neighborhood as an R10 zone many years ago cannot support the maintenance of the R10 designation under the circumstances that exist today. Maintaining R10 zoning on the side streets of our residential community defies public health and safety and denies a decent quality of life to the diverse community that already lives here.

We are not only worried about what has been proposed for East 58th Street; we are worried about our entire neighborhood. We are very concerned that the precedent set by the pending 900’ tall development on East 58th Street will quickly spur a domino effect. Under the R10 zoning designation, our neighborhood is vulnerable to a rapid and detrimental transformation, likely resulting in over a half dozen new super-tall towers being built in our immediate neighborhood east of First Avenue. The extreme adverse effect on our already seriously congested avenues and narrow side streets would be unconscionable.

Unless the City acts promptly to correct the outdated and illogical zoning provisions applicable to our neighborhood, the current building boom – spurred on by seemingly limitless amounts of capital seeking a safe haven in NYC and startling engineering technology – will permit a scale and density that our city planners never imagined decades ago.

Thank you.