New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Curbed DDG’s Upper East Side tower gets hit with yet another lawsuit by Ameena Walker


DDG’s Upper East Side tower gets hit with yet another lawsuit

“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is one of the parties of the suit.

In summer 2016, developers were hit with a stop-work order from the DOB over a four-foot lot that DDG carved out on the property in order to allow for a taller building. After the stop-work order, DDG increased the lot’s size and the DOB allowed construction to resume. However, community members continued to express opposition and proceeded with their third appeal at the time.

Curbed City Enacts Steeper Fines for Landlords Violating Privately Owned Public Space Rules by Emily Nonko

City Enacts Steeper Fines for Landlords Violating Privately Owned Public Space Rules

One such violator is Donald Trump, who helped bring attention to the issue in 2015 after a black marble bench vanished from the pedestrian atrium of Trump Tower and was replaced with an unapproved sales counter. It has since reappeared, but the Trump Organization was still fined $10,000. In response to the bench drama, three new bills to protect POPS were introduced in the City Council this year, sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick.

Other legislation from Council Members Kallos and Garodnick requires additional signage in all POPS detailing amenities and hours of operation, as well as a website for the public to find more information or to register complaints.

Curbed Sutton Place rezoning Could Move Forward, Along with Contested 800-foot Tower by Tanay Warekar

Sutton Place rezoning Could Move Forward, Along with Contested 800-foot Tower

The neighborhood rezoning already has the backing of several elected officials, most notably City Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area. He has vowed to remove the City Planning-proposed clause when the project comes before the Council next month, so this tussle is far from over.

Curbed De Blasio’s Proposed Millionaires Tax Backed By More Than Half of City Council by Zoe Rosenberg

De Blasio’s Proposed Millionaires Tax Backed By More Than Half of City Council

The 27 City Council members who have announced their support for the project by way of a letter to the MTA board and its chairman, Joe Lhota, include Jimmy Van Bramer, Margaret Chin, Laurie Cumbo, Rafael Espinal, Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, Carlos Menchaca, and Jumaane Williams.

Curbed Sutton Place residents make their case for stymying skyscrapers at City Planning by Tanay Warerkar

Sutton Place residents make their case for stymying skyscrapers at City Planning

Previously the rezoning wanted to curtail the height of buildings in this area to 260 feet, but after City Planning raised concerns about that rezoning, the Alliance altered its rezoning proposal.

This latest effort has the backing of several local elected officials including City Council member Ben Kallos. In order for Gamma to move forward with its current plan for the tower, it will have to complete construction on the foundation by Thanksgiving. That’s basically impossible, Kalikow told AM New York.

Curbed Could height limits on NYC skyscrapers be in the city’s future? by AMY PLITT

Could height limits on NYC skyscrapers be in the city’s future?

Not at all coincidentally, Gamma Real Estate is in the process of building what could become a 700-foot skyscraper at 3 Sutton Place. The proposed development, which has been in the works for some time now (first as a 900-foot tower developed by Baohaus Group, then in its current form), has raised the hackles of community members and elected officials alike. Just last week, Manhattan Community Board 6 gave its approval to the rezoning resolution, and city officials like borough president Gale Brewer and City Council member Ben Kallos have voiced their support.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, the Municipal Art Society is also coming out in favor of building height caps. The society’s president, Elizabeth Goldstein, told the Journal that the ERFA is doing “something which is really unusual and kind of amazing.” MAS, you’ll recall, has pushed for more oversight of as-of-right development before, and has been one of the loudest voices against the “accidental skyline” created by Central Park’s supertall boom.

Curbed Sutton Place rezoning to restrict skyscraper heights gets community board backing by Tanay Warerkar

Sutton Place rezoning to restrict skyscraper heights gets community board backing

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council members Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos, and State Senator Liz Krueger were all co-applicants on this zoning change proposal, and hailed the community board’s decision as a first victory.

“This is victory for thousands of residents from hundreds of buildings in and out of the neighborhood who have organized a grassroots application that would use height as an incentive to include affordable housing in any new building,” Kallos said in a statement.

 

Community Board 6 will now provide its comments to the City Planning Commission, as will the Manhattan Borough President’s office. The Planning Commission and the City Council will then seal the fate of this zoning change proposal.

Gamma declined to issue Curbed a comment, but Gamma president Jonathan Kalikow said the following to Real Estate Weekly:

Curbed NYCHA playground on the Upper East Side will give way to this mixed-income tower by Rachel Sugar

NYCHA playground on the Upper East Side will give way to this mixed-income tower

But while the project has garnered its share of community support, not everyone is pleased with the plans. The main complaint: that affordable units, which Fetner has said will be “evenly” distributed throughout the building, won’t be all that affordable after all. The units will be designated for residents earning less than $41,000 for an individual and $52,000 for a family of three—too high to actually meet the needs of the community, critics say.

As Councilman Ben Kallos pointed out, the minimum annual income for one of the new affordable apartments is $38,100, which is above the eligible income for NYCHA residents. “It's pouring salt in a wound that they're building housing that none of the NYCHA residents can get into,” he told DNAInfo.

Curbed New interactive map tracks 280 miles of NYC scaffolding by Ameena Walker

New interactive map tracks 280 miles of NYC scaffolding

While its a step in the right direction, annoyed New Yorkers are saying its not enough and call for legislation that will penalize property owners who keep the sidewalk sheds up for extended lengths of time to avoid making necessary repairs. “We already know how big a problem it is, and unless the city is willing to take steps to get the scaffolding down, it doesn’t matter,” City Councilman Ben Kallos told the Times. He has proposed a bill that would require building owners to make facade repairs within three to six months so that scaffolds aren’t up for longer than that.

 

As a result of the new map, the DOB was able to order 150 scaffolds to be dismantled since work had been finished. Though the database consolidates data, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will help scaffolds come down any quicker. “We’re erring on the side of safety to keep them in place so no one gets hurt,” said DOB Commissioner Rick Candler.

Curbed DDG's Upper East Side condo faces more challenges from neighbors by Tanay Warerkar

DDG's Upper East Side condo faces more challenges from neighbors

Neighbors and local elected officials have however argued that that consensus was ludicrous, and that it would be hard to imagine a building going up in a 10-by-22-foot lot. Neighbors have already filed two appeals against the project, according to DNAinfo, and now led by their local City Council member, Ben Kallos, they have filed a third. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has expressed her opposition to the project as well.