Category: Uncategorized


Update From ERFA President, Alan Kersh

By Team ERFA,

As you know, ERFA was successful in its years-long effort to secure rezoning for this neighborhood to protect it from out-of-scale development.  As we reported in early December, despite this victory we believed that Gamma Real Estate would continue its efforts to develop the 58th Street site (at 430 East 58th) according to its original plans with an appeal to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).  That is exactly what is happening.

I’m writing to tell you that the fight is not over, to brief you on what ERFA is doing, and how you can help.

 

Status update

When the zoning law was changed on November 30th, the 430 East 58th Street site came under that new law.  Gamma Real Estate’s construction permit automatically lapsed because the building plan that Gamma had submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) for approval did not comport with the new zoning. Accordingly, the DOB immediately issued a Stop Work Order (SWO) for construction at that site. The net result:  the new applicable law means that Gamma could not move forward with construction of the supertall tower it had planned unless and until it receives approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

ERFA has learned that Gamma has filed an appeal with BSA. Because Gamma had commenced construction of the building’s foundation before the new zoning law was adopted, it is eligible to seek “grandfather” status for the project – i.e., the right to construct a building in accordance with the plans it submitted to DOB before the zoning change.  While we do not yet know the details of Gamma’s presentation, we are aware that in considering such applications for grandfathering one of the main factors BSA considers is whether “substantial progress” was made on the foundation prior to the zoning change.  ERFA expects that the amount of work that was done on the foundation prior to November 30th (not after that date) will be an important focus for BSA.

ERFA was surprised to learn last week that despite the zoning change the DOB has partially rescinded its SWO and has given Gamma permission to perform additional work on the 58th Street building’s foundation.  In response to questions, DOB explained to Councilmember Ben Kallos that the additional work was authorized in order to stabilize the buildings next to the construction site, but that the new foundation work was unlikely to help Gamma with its BSA appeal.

Gamma’s BSA appeal has just begun and is at a very early stage. In evaluating requests for grandfathering, BSA generally requires a great deal of information to be provided by the applicant and conducts public hearings before making a decision.  ERFA will be a very strong voice for this neighborhood in opposition to BSA approval of Gamma’s request.

 

What ERFA is doing

Construction Site: ERFA continues to question DOB why/how the new work can be justified.  DOB has said that its expects the stabilization work to take four weeks. The four-week projected timeframe seems inconsistent with public statements that Jonathan Kalikow, representing Gamma, made at the time the zoning was changed.

ERFA’s consulting engineer has viewed the site, and ERFA continues to monitor and document construction efforts. If you have pictures, please send them to info@ERFA.nyc.  Please make sure that we have the date and time of the photograph, as well as the location the photograph was taken.  These photos will help us to demonstrate the amount of work that was done on the foundation after November 30th.

BSA Appeal:  ERFA is not giving up and will fight Gamma as it goes through the process of seeking grandfather status for its construction project on East 58th Street. To that end, ERFA has hired a new legal team which specializes in BSA appeals.  At this point, the time estimate for the process is believed to be four to six months.

 

What You Can Do

ERFA will schedule a Town Hall in January to update everyone on where we are.  Come and show your continued support to fight this fight. We can also come to your building if you are interested in gathering with your neighbors.  Inquiries should go to info@erfa.nyc. We will send a notice out shortly with the date, time and location.  Stay tuned.

Keeping this fight going will take resources.  ERFA needs your financial support and will be embarking on a new fundraising campaign in the new year.  You can make a contribution, however, at any time. To donate now, please click here.

This fight can be successful only if we have your support. You’ve helped the community get this far; we need you again and to the end.

If you are affected by the continued construction on East 58th Street, contact DOB if you feel the work is outside of the permit – e.g. after hours, unsafe conditions, etc.  As always, we do not encourage spurious complaints. Use the online form or call 311.  If you call 311, please get a complaint number and send it to info@erfa.nyc.

As we approach the end of this year, and look to 2018 and to a successful end to this long hard-fought battle, we thank all of our friends across the city and neighbors closer to home for joining us in ensuring the quality of life in this neighborhood.

We knew this would be a long and hard fight.  And, we knew that if we stuck together, we would prevail.  We are – and we will.  Stay with us.  Support ERFA today.

With best wishes for the new year,

 

Alan Kersh

President, East River Fifties Alliance

 

ERFA Town Hall @ Morso — August 10th @ 8 a.m.

By Team ERFA,

Thursday, August 10, 2017 8:00 a.m.
Please join us on Thursday this week to hear an update on our community rezoning application.

Co-applicant Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, and representatives from co-applicants Dan Garodnick, Ben Kallos, and Liz Krueger will be in attendance.

We know many of you are deeply concerned about the active construction site on east 58th Street. For those of you most affected by the construction, we’ll tell you what you can do if you are concerned about public safety issues or to fight against the after hours variances that the Department of Buildings has been granting.  In the meantime, for those affected, call 311 or log your complaint here.

June 2017 Update

By Team ERFA,

The City Planning Commission has officially certified ERFA’s rezoning application.

This is a major step forward for ERFA!  Certification is an official acknowledgment by the Commission 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 proposal by the City Council.

For the past 18 months, ERFA has been working with the Department of City Planning (DCP) – a City agency which essentially serves as the City Planning Commission’s staff — to complete our rezoning application.  As we have reported, during that time the work has involved the preparation of voluminous required materials and numerous discussions with the DCP.  On June 5th, DCP presented the complete application to the Commission and the Commission certified it as such.

Now that the application has been certified, it must go through a process of reviews and approvals – first to Community Board 6 and the Borough President for review, then back to the City Planning Commission for a vote on the merits, and then to the City Council for the final approval required in order for the zoning change to become effective.

CB6 and the Borough President are permitted to hold their hearings simultaneously and they have chosen to do so.  Important near-term dates are:

  • June 14th – Full Community Board 6 meeting, including a public hearing.
  • June 21st – Continued public hearing and CB6 Land Use Committee meeting, to be held jointly with the Manhattan Borough President’s public hearing
  • June 23rd – last day for public comments
  • June 27th – Special full Community Board 6 meeting with vote on final resolution concerning ERFA’s rezoning application

On a separate note:  Although the owner of the 58th Street development site (Gamma Real Estate, headed by N. Richard Kalikow) has obtained a permit from the Department of Buildings to begin constructing a foundation, work hours are limited to 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and he does not automatically have the right to work on Saturdays.  However, special permission has been obtained from the DOB for Saturday work.  We believe the City’s requirements for such permission have not been met, and Councilmember Kallos has written to the DOB objecting to it.

Now that we have reached this milestone, we need your support and involvement more than ever.  We must stand together in solidarity and show our support individually and as a community. 

Here’s what you can do:

  • Show your support. In order to give us the best chance of success of having our application approved it is very important for a large number of residents of our community to be present and make our voices heard at the public hearings.

 First Meeting:  Public Hearing before Community Board Six (Full Board)

Date:  June 14, 2017

Time:  7 p.m.

Location: NYU Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue (near 30th Street) — Alumni Hall B

Additional scheduled public meetings – mark your calendars and come to one:

June 21st – Joint Public Hearing of CB6 Land Use Committee and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, time and location to be announced

June 27th – CB6 Special Full board meeting and final vote on our application,  time and location to be announced.

  • Report any issues you see with the 58th Street development to 311. Don’t assume your neighbor will call. The City must log each complaint and address it.  Councilmember Kallos also monitors this log to that he can take action on our behalf.
  • Make financial contributions to help support this effort so that we can stay in the race to have our rezoning application approved before the developer completes a foundation at the 58th Street site. We can’t stay the course without financial resources.  Please give what you feel appropriate to support your community and to ensure your quality of life here.  Find out how to make a contribution at erfa.nyc/donate.
  • Sign the petition. Go to erfa.nyc/takeaction and make sure your name is among the more than 2000 supporters who have taken action to support this effort. Every additional name demonstrates our resolve, our commitment and our community.

Visit our website at erfa.nyc for up-to-date information about public hearings and our status in the approvals process.

Email us:  info@erfa.nyc

Town Hall — June 8th, 8 a.m. @ Morso

By Team ERFA,

Come to ERFA’s Town Hall on June 8th at 8 a.m. at Morso — 420 East 59th Street for updates on the rezoning application co-filed by ERFA and its elected officials.  We will talk about the efforts and status of getting the application certified by City Planning and finally into the public process.