July 14, 2017 — East Side alliance hopes to change zoning law, limit height of luxury tower.
Some four dozens cooperatives and condominiums have joined the battle to draw a line in the sand to block construction of a supertall luxury condo tower in their East Side neighborhood. In a city where the sky has always been the limit, developers are finally getting some pushback.
The developer in this case is Gamma Real Estate, which has already excavated a hole in the ground on East 58th Street between First Avenue and Sutton Place, where it hopes to build a 67-story, 800-foot-tall behemoth that would dwarf everything in the neighborhood. But neighbors are resisting – and now they’re in a race with the clock. The Department of Buildings has issued a stop-work order on the project because of cracks in the foundation of a building next door. Opponents of the project are hoping that the city will approve a zoning change for the neighborhood by Labor Day – before Gamma can resume work – that would limit the height of towers on side streets to about 21 stories.
“New Yorkers are exhausted by overdevelopment,” city councilman Ben Kallos, a leading opponent of the tall tower, tells the New York Times. “This is about standing up and showing the city that there’s another way to do things.”
Jon Kalikow, the president of Gamma Real Estate, says it would be a “disastrous outcome” if the city were to adopt the rezoning proposal.
“This building could dramatically change the character of our neighborhood,” says Alan Kersh, founding president of the East River Fifties Alliance, which opposes Gamma’s proposed tower and has more than 2,000 supporters, including 45 nearby co-ops and condominiums. Kersh lives across the street from the construction site in a 47-story building called the Sovereign.
Ironically, the Sovereign was the overly tall luxury tower that residents complained about when it opened its doors in 1975. One critic said it was “brutally destructive of the scale of 58th Street and Sutton Place.”
Put another way: yesteryear’s Goliath has become today’s David.