ERFA Newsline: Report from February 10th Town Hall

By Team ERFA,

Dear ERFA friends,

For those of you who were unable to attend the East River Fifties Alliance’s Town Hall meeting on February 10th I’m pleased to share a summary of the meeting.

Our coalition is showing endurance, strength, support and keen interest in this cause — evidenced by a standing-room-only crowd, civic support, and our roster of speakers.

More than 150 constituents from all over the city and residents of our community were joined by representatives of Community Board 6 and ERFA’s allied civic groups – Friends of Upper East Side Historic Districts, CIVITAS, and the Municipal Art Society and Turtle Bay – who attended the meeting in support of ERFA’s goal. The event was covered by both TV and print media.

There were six speakers: Two representatives of ERFA’s board spoke, and all four of the elected officials who are co-applicants on ERFA’s rezoning proposal – State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, and City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos – also spoke. The speakers reported on the progress of ERFA’s proposal to rezone our neighborhood to include contextual zoning and affordable housing.

In brief:

  • ERFA’s application has reached the stage where it is ready for “certification” by the Department of City Planning (DCP). Certification is an official acknowledgment by DCP that the application is complete, and thus commences the formal review process that can take several months and, if successful, will culminate in approval of the proposed zoning change by the City Planning Commission and City Council.
  • The new owner of the 58th Street site, Gamma Real Estate, headed by N. Richard Kalikow, has filed an application with the City to build an 850-foot tower rising to 67 stories. BUT, the City rejected Gamma’s application because it is incomplete. Gamma’s rush to file – accompanied by a press release announcing their plans – was clearly intended to discourage ERFA’s rezoning effort.
  • As Gamma works to complete what, in reality, is a very complex application, ERFA remains undeterred and fully committed to advancing its rezoning effort. The most immediate necessary next step is for the Department of City Planning to certify ERFA’s rezoning application, so that it can move through the remaining steps of the City’s review process.
  • To view portions of the Town Hall meeting, click here.

 

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer praised ERFA for blazing a trail not just for this community, but for other parts of the city. And, along with City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos and State Senator Liz Krueger, she stressed that “letters really count.” They emphasized the importance of continuing the public letter writing campaign as a powerful way to convince government officials of how seriously the community takes this issue and that we want ERFA’s rezoning application to be certified by the DCP without delay.

I am pleased to report that ERFA’s supporters have already written more than 1,000 letters to the Mayor and the Chair of the City Planning Commission urging them to approve ERFA’s rezoning proposal.

To do your part to advance our shared goal: Please follow the Borough President’s advice and send letters of support to the Mayor and the Chair of the City Planning Commission. (Marisa Lago will become CPC Chair beginning March 1st, replacing Carl Weisbrod, but letters can be sent to her now.) You can send letters to the Mayor and Ms. Lago by going to ERFA’s website, www.ERFA.nyc and, via the website, sending the form letters which are provided there.

Another way to help is to coordinate the signing and collection of letters in your building. We will drop off an appropriate supply, collect them when they’re ready, and then mail them for you to City Planning and the Mayor. Write to info@erfa.nyc  for more information.

Every letter counts.

And, last but not least – ERFA is in a race against time and needs continuing financial support for its rezoning effort, which still involves work by lobbying and other professionals as well as letter-writing by the community.

If you have already donated to ERFA, I thank you and hope you’ll consider another contribution. If you haven’t, now is your time to join your neighbors and friends to help win this campaign.

Donations of any amount are helpful — $50, $100, $250 or more – to support the next stage of work. Donations can be made by clicking on the red Donate button below, via ERFA’s website, or by writing a check payable to the East River Fifties Alliance and mailing it to ERFA, Attn: Donna Chin, 205 East 42nd Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10017.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Alan Kersh, President

Photo Credit:  Ed Lederman

East River Alliance Rezoning Co-Applicants Write the Department of Buildings

By Team ERFA,

ERFA and co-applicants to its zoning proposal to the Department of City Planning — State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos — have written the City’s Department of Buildings to encourage the City to disapprove any new or emended applications for the Project at 430 East 58th Street. An excerpt from that letter, sent on January 19th, 2017:

“We ask that you and the department continue to disapprove any new or amended applications for the Project and decline to issue any interim permits for foundation, excavation or other work prior to (1) the applicant’s submission of a complete application and (2) DOB’s completion of review of the full set of new building plans for zoning compliance.

The parties are deeply concerned about the zoning compliance of the Project, which has been subject to extensive litigation and public controversy over the past year. We have submitted an application for a zoning text amendment to the Department of City Planning for this community. In light of these events, it appears that the applicant is seeking partial approvals (based on an incomplete application) in an effort to rush the approval process. And regardless of that zoning change, we have serious questions about the zoning compliance of this Project. Moreover, neighbors have also expressed concern about the integrity of residential buildings bordering the Project. It is imperative that you and your department exercise your discretion and decline to issue any permits until the new building application is complete, DOB zoning analysis is complete and zoning diagrams are made publicly available.”

The full text of the letter can be seen here.

ERFA will continue to update the community on the status of building permits and our request as we have news.

ERFA urges you to make your voice heard and encourage the Department of Buildings to carefully review all applications for the proposed structure at 430 East 58th Street and decline to issue any interim permits for foundation, excavation or other work until the agency has received and reviewed the full set of new building plans by clicking here.