New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Crain's New York So much development drama in quiet Sutton Place by Tom Acitelli

So much development drama in quiet Sutton Place

sutton-place

The Sutton Place neighborhood has long been viewed as a peaceful and affluent enclave in bustling Manhattan. And its residents have not taken kindly to developers trying to cash in on that reputation.

When Sheldon Solow opened a 42-story, 234-unit apartment tower at 420 E. 61st St. at the start of the century, he encountered opposition to the building's name: 1 Sutton Place North. A community group considered the building a couple of blocks too far uptown to claim the neighborhood moniker, which dates back to a brownstone development in the 1870s. But times have changed. Many of those original Sutton Place townhouses are gone—razed or converted—while Solow's project is still standing and has retained its title. The developer even built a twin around the corner, dubbed 2 Sutton Place North.

Solow's towers stretched the nominal borders of the East Side enclave. Now a planned development, Sutton 58, is seeking to push the neighborhood's vertical boundaries.

The 800-foot luxury condominium project at 430 E. 58th St. would replace a collection of low-rise apartment buildings. If completed, it will be nearly twice as tall as any other building in the neighborhood. Opponents are fighting to keep that from happening, however.

The project has a tortured history that began in 2015, when Connecticut developer Joseph Beninati bought a run of small apartment buildings and filed plans for a 950-foot condo tower. He later lost the site to lender Gamma Real Estate, led by Richard Kalikow.

During the protracted foreclosure process, a neighborhood group aligned with City Councilman Ben Kallos was able to gain approval for a rezoning that prohibited such a large structure there. Because Gamma had not started work on the 800-foot tower before the rezoning, Sutton 58 appeared to be kaput. But in late June, a city board granted the project an exemption. Now Gamma is building, and the neighborhood group is planning to sue.

Get the popcorn ready.

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