New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Sydney Pereira

Manhattan Express In E. 58th St. Tower Fight, Debate Over Who’s Ahead by Sydney Pereira

In E. 58th St. Tower Fight, Debate Over Who’s Ahead

An Upper East Side community group is claiming a small victory in its legal battle against a tower under construction on E. 58th St. But that victory, the developer counters, is nothing more than a mere coincidence due to the project’s construction timeline.

Manhattan Express UES Electeds Press For More Local Pre-K Seats by Sydney Pereira

UES Electeds Press For More Local Pre-K Seats

Since the city’s rollout of universal pre-k, Upper East Side pols have been critical of how few seats there are in the area. A WNYC report in 2014 found that just 123 pre-k seats were located in Yorkville, Lenox Hill, and Roosevelt Island, though some 2,118 four-year-olds lived in those neighborhoods.

The issue, in part, is due to how School District 2 stretches from the Upper East Side through the southern tip of Manhattan.

“That is obviously a problem,” said City Councilmember Ben Kallos, “if a seat in the Financial District is being counted toward a child in East Harlem.”

Councilmember Keith Powers said the boundaries of school districts should probably be revisited.

When your pre-k is three miles away, he said, “it creates false expectations for the school system when you have school seats available, but they’re so far for families.”

Since last September, hundreds of seats have been added at Third Ave. and E. 95th St., as well as on E. 57th St. and E. 82nd St. Next fall, a fourth pre-k is expected to open on E. 76th St. with another 180 seats — bringing the total of new seats to more than 450 in two years.

Manhattan Express Losing Battles, Supertall Opponents Hope to Win the War by Sydney Pereira

Losing Battles, Supertall Opponents Hope to Win the War

Councilmember Ben Kallos called the buffer lot a “sham zoning lot,” created so that developers could skirt the zoning rule known as “tower-on-a-base” that would have constrained the building’s height and design had it legally fronted on E. 88th St. In 2015, DDG Partners sold the buffer lot for $10 to a legally separate company, though both entities were under the same name and developer address, Kallos said.

One factor debated by the BSA commissioners last week was whether the tiny lot could conceivably be sold and built upon in the future. Kallos argued no, explaining the lot is adjacent to what is expected to be the building’s main entrance. Though the building has a Third Ave. address in city records, its condos have been advertised as being on E. 88th St.

“The developer never bothered to hide that the unbuildable lot is a sham,” Kallos said in his testimony to the BSA. “Under the terms of federal and state laws, this transaction would likely be considered a fraudulent conveyance in a foreclosure or bankruptcy proceeding.”

Manhattan Express City Greenlights Sutton Place Megatower by Sydney Pereira

City Greenlights Sutton Place Megatower

City Greenlights Sutton Place Megatower

Added by paul on June 28, 2018.
Saved under City HallPoliticsReal Estate
Tags: Bill de BlasioKramer Levin Naftalis & FrankelBen KallosNYC Department of TransportationNYC Department of BuildingsNYC Board of Standards and AppealsMichael Hiller3 Sutton PlaceGamma Real EstateMargery PerlmutterEast River 50s AllianceJonathan KalikowErrol Louis


An East River 50s Alliance rendering of the impact of the 3 Sutton Place megatower on the neighborhood skyscape. | Via

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | A city agency has given the go-ahead to developers building a 64-story tower on the Upper East Side. The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) decision arrives after years of advocacy against the tower — including a community-based rezoning effort led by the East River 50s Alliance (ERFA) in an attempt to halt the project.

The board’s June 26 decision in favor of the developer effectively exempts the tower at 3 Sutton Place — also known as 430 East 58th St. — from a 10-block stretch of rezoning in the East 50s.

“They [the developers] trumped the democratic process,” Michael Hiller, ERFA’s lawyer, said after a public hearing last Tuesday, June 19, anticipating that the BSA decision would favor the  developer. “I just think that’s outrageous.”

ERFA plans to take the decision to court. The organization said in a statement that the BSA decision was no surprise.

“The East River 50s Alliance will now take the community’s fight against this monstrous, out-of-place megatower to the courts and away from a city agency,” the group said in a statement. “Unfortunately for the community and the City at large, the [BSA] 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. The Board committed multiple errors of law based upon a misapprehension of what the Zoning Resolution provides.”

The developer, Jonathan Kalikow of Gamma Real Estate, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

City Councilmember Ben Kallos at a 2016 rally held by the East River 50s Alliance in support of the neighborhood’s rezoning initiative. | Photo by Jackson Chen

The decision hinged on whether substantial foundation work on the site at 3 Sutton Place had been completed by Nov. 30, 2017 — when the Sutton Place rezoning was approved by the City Council. Opponents of the Gamma Real Estate tower, including East Side Councilmember Ben Kallos, said the permits to close the streets and work after hours from the Department of Buildings and Department of Transportation were fraudulent. To obtain these permits, there had to have been a public safety threat to leaving the construction incomplete, but Kallos and ERFA activists insist there was no public safety threat justifying the permits.

“I think after-hours variances are a bane in the existence of every New Yorker who wants to get a good night’s sleep or enjoy their weekend,” Kallos said. “It’s bad enough that the Department of Buildings is granting them for the wrong reasons.”

If the DOB gives out such variances “like candy,” the councilmember argued, the BSA vote could have at least sent the message that such variances cannot be used to fast-track foundation work.

“I’m disappointed by the fact that they said this was for public safety but by closing the street it actually endangered people’s safety,” Kallos added.