The New York City Council members cast their votes for the people yesterday, November 30th, and approved 45-0 (with one abstention) a re-zoning measure preserving the context and character of Sutton Place’s quiet residential side streets.
This is an unprecedented victory for a community-led effort.
This action represents the penultimate victory in a years-long effort by the East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA) and our elected officials, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Daniel Garodnick, and State Senator Liz Krueger, to correct an aberration of the 1961-era zoning law that allows buildings of unlimited height on residential side streets in the district, roughly the area between 51st and 59th Streets east of First Avenue.
Until now, every other residential community in New York City has had legal protections in the form of lower-density zoning or contextual regulations that prevent the construction of supertall towers. The new zoning language imposes “tower on a base” standards in the area — which means that 45-50% of a building would need to be built below 150 feet.
The new zoning is now in effect. While this is all quite promising, our work is not over.
The Department of Buildings has placed a stop work order on the construction site at 430 East 58th Street. We fully expect that Gamma Real Estate, the developer of the absurdly out-of-scale megatower, will continue to fight.
But, for us, this was never about just one building. It was a district-wide application to prevent megatowers on soft sites. It was a successful effort to deter assemblages of parcels containing low-rise, often rent-stabilized, housing to be demolished for the construction of megatowers.
We intend to fight this battle to the finish with you, the more than 2,600 residents in hundreds of buildings throughout the city who have shown their support these many, many months.