East River Fifties residents and ERFA members Gail Wasserman and Jennifer Crandall have been leading our tabling efforts around the neighborhood. They are the smiling faces that distribute information and answer questions about ERFA’s plan and its progress. We asked them about the most common questions and misconceptions. Here’s what the ladies said:
What is the biggest misconception that you keep hearing?
People think that the former developer’s bankruptcy and foreclosure struggle means that there is no longer any danger of the E 58th St. building being built.
Foreclosure on a loan only means that the property would be transferred to another owner via an auction conducted by the lender. Another developer could take over the project and plan an equally tall building, perhaps with greater ability than the Bauhouse Group to see the project through to completion. Although the bankruptcy proceeding has caused a temporary delay, it could be resolved at any time and the project could rapidly move forward with a very able developer. The antiquated zoning laws that allow megatowers in our residential neighborhood would still exist and continue to be a threat in the future. ERFA’s rezoning plan, if successful, will ensure that this site and others in the East River Fifties community will no longer permit such towers.
The East River Fifties community is angry that this may happen in the Sutton neighborhood as well as elsewhere in the City. People are energized and committed to getting the rezoning accomplished.
Thank you again to Gail Wasserman and Jennifer Crandall for their continued hard work on this cause. You can find them at their next tabling event on June 16th at Cathedral High School (across the street from Le Pain Quotidien) on 1st Avenue and 56th Street.
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 onCreators.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:
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.
Today, we launch our first video effort entitled, “Too Tall for the Fifties.” It features neighborhood residents and Councilmember Ben Kallos who talk about the qualities and values that make our community unique and how we must continue to fight megatowers and support our community rezoning plan.