According to Curbed New York: “The East River Fifties Alliance, which includes officials like City Council Members Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and neighborhood stakeholders, are not letting up on their fight against Bauhouse Group’s proposed 950-foot tower at 426-432 East 58th Street despite last week’s court ordered auction of the site due to the developer’s mounting fiscal troubles.” For more, click here.
According to the WSJ: “Last Monday, a bankruptcy judge ordered the sale of the East 58th Street site, assembled by Joseph Beninati’s Bauhouse Group. But the community groups, along with elected officials,
are hoping to delay the project until a new zoning plan limiting building heights can be put into effect.
“The plan, which the groups and officials said they were ready to formally propose to the City Planning Commission as early as this week, calls for buildings in the neighborhood to be no taller than 260 feet…”The groups hope it is approved before development work begins at the site. The proposed change also could discourage bidders at the auction, which was ordered by the court following a dispute between Bauhouse Group and its lenders, led by N. Richard Kalikow.
“The zoning change isn’t the only hurdle the project faces. On Wednesday, the Department of Buildings blocked a permit needed to complete demolition of the site, after conducting an audit requested by [Councilmember Ben] Kallos.” To read more, click here.
Once again, ERFA’s President, Alan Kersh, was featured in the news: this time, in The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ looked into the bankruptcy/foreclosure battle between the developer Bauhouse and its lenders, and spoke with him about the project.
Controversy over the project started as soon as its existence became public in March 2015…
The Sutton Place tower’s sheer scale—with 78 floors it would reach far higher than surrounding buildings—and location in the middle of a narrow residential street not far from Billionaire’s Row, drew immediate backlash from the community.
“It caught everyone by surprise,” said Alan Kersh, president of the East River 50s Alliance, which has been fighting the tower since it was first proposed last year, calling it “wickedly out of character and out of scale with our neighborhood.”
ERFA’s president, Alan Kersh, was recently featured in an article on Creators.com. It looks at the response to megatowers in cities across the country and why it is so important for communities to be in charge of the future of their neighborhoods.The article was also picked up under another headline by HeraldNet. Here are a few snippets:
Creators: Don’t Bury Our Cities in Megatowers
Michael Mehaffy, an architectural critic based in Portland, Oregon, has likened super-tall residential buildings to vertical gated communities cut off from the neighbors far below. Furthermore, the buildings are often half empty.
That’s because these ultra-expensive spaces are being marketed to a global elite seeking a safe place to stash their money. Billions are pouring in from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Latin America.
Here’s how Alan Kersh, president of the East River Fifties Alliance (a group fighting the Sutton Place megatower), sums up the raw deal: “The neighborhood is being ripped up for foreign owners who may fly in for a couple of days and just want to have a safe deposit box in the sky.”
Much of the money flowing into this super-expensive real estate is dirty — all-cash deals using shell companies. The buyers’ identities are hidden. A concerned U.S. Treasury Department is starting to track these purchasers.
Developers look for “soft” building sites. In older residential areas, such as Sutton Place, that means demolishing the tenements and five-story walkups where people of modest means still live. When the Sutton 58 developer is done, 80 families will be displaced.
The theme this campaign season is ordinary Americans’ wanting their power back. That should extend to politics on the very local level. Residents have a right to determine the destiny of their neighborhoods.
DNAinfo published an article about Community Board 6’s recent resolution. The piece included details about ERFA’s rezoning plan (head to our Media Center for more) and a quote from ERFA’s President, Alan Kersh.
MIDTOWN EAST — Community Board 6 has thrown its support behind a rezoning proposal aimed at stopping the construction of skyscrapers in Sutton Place.
CB 6 voted nearly unanimously earlier this month to support a community-funded rezoning application that would limit the height of all new towers, east of First Avenue, from East 52nd to East 59th streets, to 260 feet, or 25 stories.
The East 50s River Alliance, a neighborhood group that sprang up in opposition to the project, filed the rezoning application in January, with support from four city and state lawmakers including Councilman Ben Kallos and State Senator Liz Krueger.
Alan Kersh, president of the alliance, thanked CB 6 for its support of the initiative in a statement.
“We are thrilled that CB6 has not only reiterated its support for rezoning the area to reflect community concerns, but called on City Planning to move swiftly in reviewing and acting on ERFA’s proposal,” Kersh said.