Category: Uncategorized

December Decision Update

By Team ERFA,

As revealed to all who attended the Town Hall on Thursday, December 13, 2018, ERFA continues to blaze a trail and maintain protections against megatowers and supertalls for our beloved Sutton Place neighborhood.

As many people know, ERFA appeared in front of Judge Debra A. James in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday, the 11th of December.

The details of our Article 78 case were strongly represented by attorney Michael Hiller and Councilmember Ben Kallos, demonstrating that no developer should be granted a zoning “grandfathering” exception when it has not abided by all aspects of the law. In our case, we know that all aspects of the law were not followed by the developer and, that the Board of Standards & Appeals did not act properly in granting them an exception to proceed. If you wish to read the transcript of our hearing, we will be posting it on ERFA.NYC as soon as it is available.

Finally, in view of the fact that this case is being reviewed by New York State Supreme Court and not a City government agency, we are optimistic that both the strength of our case and, the rule of law shall prevail and therefore, this is our way of wishing you all a very happy holiday season.

WHAT TO EXPECT:  “Build it Right” 
The newly adopted zoning measure (enacted in November 2017) calls for Tower on a Base which is a contextual, neighborhood zoning specification and allows for developers to build, but not in a configuration that exceeds Tower on a Base requirements.

Under those requirements, the lowest 85 feet of a building would not necessarily be shaped differently from the lowest 85 feet of the megatower the developer is trying to construct. Therefore, the restriction that was put in place last October limiting construction to a height of 16 feet has been loosened to allow for construction up to a height of 80 feet.


At that point — when construction is near the 85 foot height at which it would become inconsistent with Tower on a Base zoning– if the judge has not already reached her decision on our Article 78 appeal — she will decide whether the developer should be allowed to do any additional construction while the case is still pending.

Note: The building height is to be calculated as a measurement from the ground up. You can expect continued activity on the site, but it should not exceed the 80 foot height which would trigger review by the judge.

In the true spirit of “if you see something, say something,” please continue to notify 311 of any obvious traffic, construction, safety or unlawful activity that you witness. We are greatly appreciative of the community’s efforts toward those protections.

Have a beautiful, happy, healthy and safe holiday season.
We expect 2019 will be a successful year for The East River Fifties

The ERFA Leadership Committee

P.S. We continue to rely on your generosity, concern and commitment. Please consider making a donation on behalf of the neighborhood you know and love.

In Case You Missed It

By Team ERFA,

Dear Concerned Citizens of the East River Fifties Alliance,

As many of you know, ERFA appeared in front of the Board of Standards & Appeals yesterday afternoon, the 19th of June, 2018.

Additional and noteworthy merits of our case were presented by our lawyer, Michael Hiller which were reinforced by our indomitable Council Member Ben Kallos. Supporting community members and ERFA Leadership also supplied testimony as did the office of the Borough President, the office of Carolyn Maloney and the Municipal Art Society. ERFA is most grateful for everyone’s time, effort and spirit.

We have been informed that a decision will be reached by the BSA on the 26th of June.

In the meantime, we are sharing some highlighted press links from these past few weeks which under-score the many dynamics that have accompanied our efforts.

Note: Due to the upcoming 4th of July holiday, we are tentatively scheduling the next ERFA Town Hall for Thursday, the 12th. This meeting will be critical as we will be discussing the next phase in our quest – REGARDLESS of the outcome at the Board of Standards and Appeals.

As always, your support is essential to the full success of the East River Fifties rezoning, To protect the neighborhood we know and love, there is a continuing battle to be fought to assure that the 58th Street development site will not be exempted from the zoning change we achieved on November 30, 2017. Please continue to support us.

With thanks and gratitude,
ERFA Leadership


P.S.  ERFA has been in the news.  Please follow these links for important articles by Greg B. Smith in the Daily News and Sydney Pereira of the Manhattan Press, and Sally Goldenberg of Politico.

ERFA Members: Join us for the last and final chapter of our battle

By Team ERFA,






WHEN:  Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 10 a.m.

WHAT:   2nd BSA Hearing re: 430 East 58th StreeT

WHERE: 22 Reade Street, New York, NY

WHY: Oppose Construction of a Megatower at 430 East 58th Street


SPECIAL NOTE: The BSA hearing is called for 10 a.m.  ERFA will likely be called to appear around 11 a.m., but that is subject to change, without notice.If you have time constraints, please bring a copy of your testimony to the hearing to ensure that it is included with all of our submissions.Winning requires a level of commitment that transcends what is typically necessary in connection with the exercise of rights in the democratic process.We must absolutely bring a show of force to this hearing: speakers, passionate community members, concerned citizens to help us get to the finish line.


Express yourself. Make your voice heard.  

ERFA. We are the power of many voices.  Together we can preserve our city.


Tell the BSA to make them Build it Right.

Support the East River Fifties Alliance. Please donate now. 


By Team ERFA,

WHEN: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 time to be announced
WHAT: 2nd BSA Hearing re 430 East 58th
WHERE: 22 Reade Street, New York, NY
WHY: Oppose Construction of a Megatower at 430 East 58th Street

After a two-month lull in public activity following the Board of Standards & Appeals (“BSA”) April 10th hearing, the fight to protect our neighborhood from construction of a massive, overbearing megatower is again in high gear and we need your participation.

When we learned that a developer was planning to construct a monstrous megatower at 430 East 58th Street and realized that our entire neighborhood was at risk, we rose up and, with the help of our elected officials, succeeded in achieving a zoning change to prevent the construction of megatowers anywhere in our community. The rezoning of the East River Fifties was approved by the City Council on November 30, 2017 by a 45-0 vote with one abstention.

Remember that when the City Council enacted the zoning change, it removed a grandfathering provision which had been inserted by the City Planning Commission to permit the developer to construct the planned 58th Street megatower. The developer tried to persuade the City Council to retain the grandfathering provision, but, after listening to testimony by ERFA and others, the City Council expressly rejected it.

Then – In December 2017, in a further effort to avoid the restrictions of the new law, the developer submitted an application to the BSA seeking authorization to construct a building as per plans filed with the Department of Buildings prior to the zoning change, i.e., to have its planned megatower “grandfathered.”

We were undeterred from our resolve to protect our community!


The BSA held a hearing on April 10th to consider arguments for and against grandfathering the developer’s planned megatower under the old zoning rules. The developer sought approval of its application, and ERFA presented numerous reasons why the application should be disapproved.
Because of issues raised by ERFA at the April 10th hearing, the BSA concluded that it needed more information and further analysis before it could make a decision. The BSA scheduled a second hearing to take place on June 19th at which it will hear further arguments for and against approval of the developer’s application.
During the past two months, we have been actively gathering information and preparing legal arguments in preparation for the June 19th hearing. We are now convinced even more than before that the developer has not met the legal requirements for BSA approval of its application, and we intend to prove our case.
We will demonstrate, among other things, that the after-hours and weekend work permits obtained by the developer as a “safety” measure were not necessary for safety reasons, did not meet the legal requirements for issuance of such permits, and should never have been issued. That means that the construction work performed on those days should NOT be counted when deciding whether the developer made “substantial progress” toward construction of the building’s foundation prior to the zoning change. And if “substantial progress” was not made, the BSA must disapprove the application.
That argument is only one of numerous compelling reasons we will give for the BSA to disapprove the developer’s application — any one of which, alone, would be sufficient to show that the developer is not entitled to the “grandfathering” exception requested, and that to grant it would constitute a violation of New York City Law.


We remain optimistic that, working with our public officials, we can be successful in the defense of our community.

The continued unwavering resolve of our community is a critical component of that success. Let’s show our strength!

We urge all New Yorkers who are against the Looming Towering Nightmare that the developer is trying to construct at 430 East 58th Street to attend the BSA public hearing on June 19th and show support for ERFA and the City’s zoning law.

We encourage all of our supporters to speak at the hearing, but regardless of whether you choose to make a personal statement, your presence itself makes an essential statement.


By Team ERFA,

10 April 2018

Dear All,

An expression of tremendous gratitude goes out to our many committed ERFA members for attending today’s hearing at the Board of Standards & Appeals. While the downtown early morning was gray and misty, the sky began to clear many hours later when the hearing adjourned.

If you attended the hearing and were able to testify, please know that the registered impact of that was powerful. Whether your speech was a simple, “I live in the neighborhood and I am opposed to this megatower,” or a more extended explanation, there is no question that our steadfast commitment to protecting the East River Fifties is now well documented with this government agency.

Importantly, if you attended the hearing and were unable to stay due to time constraints, we remain grateful for your effort and your presence.


Hon. Chair Margery Perlmutter

Board of Standards & Appeals
250 Broadway, 29th floor
New York, NY 10007 

Also, your names as participating speakers was registered with the BSA upon sign in. That long list of people who wished to speak, plus the very presence of so many other members of our community, made a vivid impression on the commissioners.

Finally, our next hearing date has been set for the 19th of June. Please stay tuned for further information regarding upcoming ERFA meetings, and again, many thanks for your commitment and passion on behalf of the neighborhood we all know and love.

All best wishes,


ERFA leadership Team

Please help fund this effort by making a donation today.