The cityʼs Board of Standards and Appeals yesterday (Tuesday) approved the developer’s proposal for a 64-story apartment building following years of controversy over the site.
Neighbors formed the East River Fifties Alliance to fight highrise building in the area and submitted their own rezoning plan to scale down development. As the rezoning included Gamma’s Sutton 58 tower, the developer went to the BSA to request an extension to complete its foundation. According to city law, if a project’s foundation is mostly complete, the project can avoid the proposed zoning changes.
But while the city approved a rezoning that limits the height of new buildings, the BSA decision means Gamma can proceed with its luxury tower, a move that has infuriated members of the ERFA.
“The East River Fifties Alliance will now take the community’s fight against this monstrous, out-of-place mega-tower to the courts and away from a city agency,” ERFA’s communications director Lisa Mercurio said in a statement.
“Unfortunately for the community and the city at large, the Board of Standards and Appeals abrogated its responsibilities under the Zoning Resolution, including especially its obligation to independently assess the invalidity of ill-gotten, after-hours work variances and alleged street closure permits that allowed the tower’s developer to engage in a race to complete the foundation.”
ERFA’s attorney, Michael Hiller, added that the BSA vote would set a bad precedent for future developments.
“The BSA vote paves the way for a politically-connected developer to violate the Zoning Resolution and frustrate the will of the City Council, which, in November 2017, passed legislation to prevent this very outcome and others like it,” Hiller said.
ERFA has an ally through the area’s Councilmember Ben Kallos who also opposed the Sutton 58 development.
“The fight to preserve our residential communities against super-tall buildings will likely have to continue in court before a judiciary less likely to be tainted by the political process after today’s irresponsible decision by the Board of Standards and Appeals,” Kallos said in a statement. “The Board ruled in favor of a bad acting developer against a lawful rezoning that was the result of a grassroots effort by the local community and elected officials.”
Gamma Real Estate bought the site out of foreclosure after the Bauhouse Group defaulted on loans for the assemblage it created along three contiguous lots form 428-432 East 58th Street between First Avenue and Sutton Place.
Bauhouse Group had originally tapped Foster + Partners to build an 80-story tower on the site measuring close to 1,00 s/f.