DNAinfo.com Grassroots Sutton Place Rezoning Plan Gets Backing from Community Board by Noah Hurowitz
MIDTOWN EAST — Community Board 6 has thrown its support behind a rezoning proposal aimed at stopping the construction of skyscrapers in Sutton Place.
CB 6 voted nearly unanimously earlier this month to support a community-fundedrezoning application that would limit the height of all new towers, east of First Avenue, from East 52nd to East 59th streets, to 260 feet, or 25 stories.
The zoning plan was created by Sutton Place residents and supported by local lawmakers, following an outcry from neighbors fearing the impact of an over-saturation of tall buildings in their neighborhood.
The plan still needs to go through the city's uniform land-use review process, or ULURP, before it can be applied.
The proposed rezoning would also ban any commercial development along residential side streets with the exception of “community uses” such as medical offices and day cares.
The plan would also mandate that 25 percent of any new development be dedicated to on-site below-market-rate housing. In a gesture to potentially squeamish developers, the rezoning would allow a slight increase in maximum floor-area ratio, from 12 to 13 — permitting slightly higher density than current rules allow.
Residents of Sutton Place brought the application to the Department of City Planningin part out of opposition to a 900-foot skyscraper that developer Bauhouse Group is trying to build at 428-432 E. 58th St.
The East 50s River Alliance, a neighborhood group that sprang up in opposition to the project, filed the rezoning application in January, with support from four city and state lawmakers including Councilman Ben Kallos and State Senator Liz Krueger.
Alan Kersh, president of the alliance, thanked CB 6 for its support of the initiative in a statement.
“We are thrilled that CB6 has not only reiterated its support for rezoning the area to reflect community concerns, but called on City Planning to move swiftly in reviewing and acting on ERFA’s proposal," Kersh said.
"At a time when supertall buildings and other massive developments threaten to dwarf our neighborhoods and make them unlivable, we feel that our zoning plan provides a vital opportunity for reasonable and contextual development, in addition to affordable housing, while preserving the unique character of our community."
Bauhouse spent the past year buying up properties and development rights on 58th Street and began demolishing buildings to make way for the tower last fall, and a representative of the firm in January said the developer plans to complete the project well before the rezoning is approved.
But the project is already in jeopardy. In January, Bauhouse defaulted on a $147 million loan from Gamma Real Estate, which is now looking to sell the property at foreclosure auction, according to Crain’s.
A judge this week dismissed the developer's attempt to block the auction, scheduled for Feb. 29, which leaves the fate of the 58th Street skyscraper uncertain, according to a Crain's report.