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Rendering of Two Bridges via Handel Architects Rendering of Two Bridges via Handel Architects
Last week, the Lower East Side/Chinatown project known as Two Bridges was dealt a blow when State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the four-building development cannot go forward on grounds that the land-use review process was illegally bypassed (h/t 6sqft). As the City Planning Commission determined that the new buildings would create only a “minor modification” to the area, its permission allowed the developers to move forward without seeking permission from local lawmakers. Community organizations, the City Council, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer disagreed, citing the magnitude of the projects and the effect they would have on residents of surrounding low-rises, and filed a lawsuit in the spring.

“Allowing this project to proceed without the City Council’s imprimatur would distort the city’s carefully crafted system of checks and balances” – Judge Arthur Engoron

In this article:

259 Clinton Street
259 Clinton Street Lower East Side
200 Amsterdam Avenue
200 Amsterdam Avenue Lincoln Center
260 South Street
260 South Street Financial District
247 Cherry Street
247 Cherry Street Lower East Side
Two-Bridges-02 Google Earth rendering of Two Bridges
One might have thought One Manhattan Square, a soaring new amenity-rich luxury tower nearby, would have cleared the way for the transformation of this stretch of Lower Manhattan. The developers behind Two Bridges certainly hoped so. It would have consisted of a 1,000-foot-tall tower at 247 Cherry Street, a 724-foot-tall rental at 259 Clinton Street, and a two-tower project at 260 South Street. In addition to thousands of new residential units with spectacular river and Brooklyn views, the projects would bring new retail, community green space, and flood protection to the area. Thanks to the large number of affordable units the project would have provided—nearly 700, not to mention a percentage dedicated to seniors—Mayor Bill de Blasio was the rare public official to come out in favor of the project.
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Developers JDS Development Group, L+M Development, CIM Group, and Starrett Corporation have already announced their intentions to appeal. However, Two Bridges cannot move forward until it has gone through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which could potentially take months. Judge Engoron also says they must begin a public review process to seek community input on the project. While Two Bridges is not officially dead, its construction is delayed and its future is considered to be in doubt.
200-Amsterdam-Avenue-1 Rendering of 200 Amsterdam Avenue via Elkus Manfredi Architects
Those wondering what the ruling and court battle mean for the future of Two Bridges might be advised to look uptown to another embattled high-rise for clues. Like its downtown counterpart, the 51-story condo tower planned for 200 Amsterdam Avenue has been opposed by community groups and elected officials seemingly from the time plans were revealed. The 668-foot height, well above its Upper West Side neighbors, was assembled from pieces of lots to come up with the necessary air rights. Opponents of the project, which include Ms. Brewer, City Council member Helen Rosenthal, and State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, have described this as a gerrymandered lot.
For the past few years, developer SJP Properties and community activists have been in and out of court. The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) has upheld its initial approval for the project, saying it complies with zoning rules. But just last week, the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development filed a new petition alleging that the BSA failed to reexamine the case in accordance with the city’s zoning resolution. They hope that this will nullify the project’s approval, although Curbed points out that this could just kick it back to the BSA for further review.
Even if the project is nullified, it is unclear what would happen to the extensive construction that has already taken place, albeit in fits and starts. 200 Amsterdam Avenue has reached nearly 40 stories and is still expected to top out soon. Sales are still expected to launch this fall, and an accepted offering plan lists a whopping $868 million sellout.
200-Amsterdam-Avenue-1 200 Amsterdam Avenue entrance rendering via Elkus Manfredi Architects
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