East River Fifties Alliance Hosts Rally and Demonstration:

05/10/2016

Community to City: “No Megatowers in Our Residential Neighborhood; Support Our Rezoning Plan, NOW!”

For Immediate Release

May 10, 2016

Contact: Linda Cronin-Gross, Sonya Landau, LCG Communications;

lindaatlcgcommunications [dot] comsonyaatlcgcommunications [dot] com718.853.5568

Manhattan –The East River Fifties community came together on May 10th for a rally and demonstration, organized by the East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA), asking the City to hurry along approval of its residential rezoning plan and vowing to fight any plans to build megatowers in their community.

“We simply cannot allow wildly out-of-scale supertowers to crush our mostly low-rise residential neighborhood,” said Alan Kersh, ERFA’s President. “Our proposed re-zoning plan, which is currently under review by the Department of City Planning, will guarantee that megatowers cannot be built here. There has already been one attempt to site such a monstrosity here, and we need the City to act as quickly as possible to make our plan a reality and to protect our community,” he added.

"The community has done its part by filing and now it's time for the City to do its part by certifying the application to stop buildings for billionaires in favor of new schools and affordable housing," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the neighborhood and is a co-filer on the ERFA rezoning plan. "The fight against superscrapers in residential neighborhoods is far from over."

ERFA, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, and State Senator Liz Krueger, filed one of the most sweeping community-generated re-zoning plans in City history with the Department of City Planning in January. The new zoning plan for the East River 50s (the area between 52nd Street and 59th Street, east of 1st Avenue), would restrict supertowers and out-of-scale development in that neighborhood, which is still subject to an outdated, 1960’s-era R10 zoning designation, which sets no specific height limits on apartment buildings. R10 zoning is generally limited to busy commercial or mixed-use avenues in Manhattan, and the East River Fifties community is now the ONLY residential neighborhood in NYC where mid blocks and quiet residential street are subject to this kind of zoning.

“I was born the year that the R10 zoning was imposed on the neighborhood and it’s never changed,” said Lisa Mercurio, ERFA’s Director of Communications. “It’s very clear that this zoning should have been changed a long time ago, and is decades out-of-date. But it took the collective effort of the community to finally try to get that done and it’s just in the nick of time. As developers continue to build the tallest and most expensive towers ever in the City’s history, our quiet residential neighborhood absolutely needs the protection that our new zoning plan would afford. We need that zoning now, and we will fight any effort to build supertalls here,” she continued.

The demonstrators carried signs that depicted what the neighborhood’s profile might look like if the area’s zoning is not changed and if the march of supertalls continues to spill over, unchecked, from Billionaire’s Row.

“Neighborhoods all over the City are in crisis because developers have been given almost free rein to do whatever they like,” said guest speaker Lynn Ellsworth, co-founder of New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City, an informal coalition and alliance of 84 community organizations and civic groups concerned with tenants’ rights, preservation, parks, and public space management across all five boroughs. “The community-generated plan that has been set forth by ERFA is a great achievement. It’s incredible that the local elected officials saw fit to not only support the community but to work with them and become co-filers on the plan. It’s a model for how the planning process can work,” she added.

"The outdated zoning around Sutton Place makes it vulnerable to out-of-scale development, and that's the last thing this quiet, residential neighborhood needs," said Council Member Dan Garodnick, who is one of the plan’s co-filers. "The community has put forth a strong rezoning proposal to prevent superscrapers from taking over, and we need to move this plan through the review process and pass it as quickly as possible," he continued.

ERFA’s zoning proposal was carefully written and overseen by prominent urban planners, Douglas Woodward and Sandy Hornick, and would create an entirely new zoning district that would stop megatowers and encourage contextual residential development.

“New development will always be a fact of life in Manhattan, but we must plan it with care and the input of the community,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer “We need to preserve our neighborhoods’ characters and the need for light, air, infrastructure, and housing. Supertall buildings violate each of those criteria.”

“This city does not need more supertowers filled with empty billionaire apartments – that’s not a rational plan for our communities.ERFA’s proposal, on the other hand, is a truly grassroots effort in well thought out community-based planning. I urge the City to consider this “people’s” zoning proposal, and make its approval a priority,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.

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About ERFA: The East River Fifties Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization composed of residents, community organizations, condominiums and co-ops, whose goal is to reform New York City’s zoning laws to prevent out-of-scale development and to better protect the residential character of the “Far East Fifties” in Manhattan. You can learn more at ERFA.NYC