DNAinfo.com Developer Rushes to Get Tower Plan OK'd Ahead of Rezoning Effort: Neighbors by Noah Hurowitz
MANHATTAN — The new owner of a controversial Sutton Place development site has filed plans to build an 850-foot tower, in what residents say is a rush by the developer to get plans approved before a grassroots effort to rezone the neighborhood gets backing from the city.
Gamma Real Estate, one of the major backers of a previously planned skyscraper at 430 E. 58th St., filed plans last week for a new tower on the site just two weeks after buying the property and its development rights in a foreclosure auction, according to city records.
Plans for the new building show a nearly 850-foot tower with just 60 feet of street frontage. It would rise to 67 stories and include 389 residential units, according to Department of Buildings records.
The development firm, which is headed by Richard Kalikow, had invested heavily in the previous owner, Joseph Beninati’s Bauhouse Group, and the firm’s plans for a 900-foot tower in Sutton Place. But early last year, Beninati hit a snag in securing the funding he needed, and one by one he began to stiff contractors and investors, which ultimately led to bankruptcy and the end of his vision for a Sutton Place luxury tower.
Kalikow swept in and bought the property for $86 million, records show, well below what some insiders had speculated, possibly signaling a slowing of Manhattan’s ultra-luxe condo market, according to The Real Deal.
Kalikow did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Him filing permits doesn’t really do anything other than to try to scare us off,” said Alan Kersh, whose group East River 50s Alliance spearheaded an ongoing effort to rezone Sutton Place with a height limit.
“He’s trying to protect his investment and rushing to file something before we move forward.”
Kersh said he’s putting his hopes on the city to approve its request to rezone the area and ban commercial properties — except for “community uses” such as medical offices and day cares — as well as impose a height cap limiting any new development to 260 feet tall.
The plan would also mandate that 30 percent of any new development be dedicated to on-site below-market-rate housing.
The rezoning proposal is currently being reviewed by the Department of City Planning, and the group expects an answer on whether the city will move forward with a uniform land-use review process, or ULURP, in the next few weeks.
The process, which would begin as soon as DCP certifies the application, would take months to complete, requiring reviews by Community Board 6, the Manhattan Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and City Council.
But the proposal already has the support of key figures in that process, including Borough President Gale Brewer, CB6, and city council members including Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.