New York, NY – New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, and Council Member Margaret S. Chin on Thursday updated their joint lawsuit to ensure full public review for proposed developments (ULURP) in Manhattan’s Two Bridges neighborhood.
The proposed development in Lower Manhattan would, in order to proceed, need to lift a deed restriction at Block 248 Lot 70, one of three properties at the center of the dispute, meant to ensure housing for low income people with disabilities and the elderly in perpetuity.
This existing deed restriction was never disclosed by DCP or the developers and is yet another reason ULURP is essential for a project of this magnitude.
The potential lifting of this restriction is akin to the city’s disastrous decision to lift a deed on a parcel of land at the former Rivington House in 2015, the court papers allege.
Like Rivington, which is in the same Council District as Two Bridges, the lifting of the deed would negatively impact a community struggling to remain affordable for all New Yorkers, the court papers allege.
“I thought the city had learned its lesson from Rivington, but it appears that would be too much to ask for since it is making the same mistake again with Two Bridges. It is simply unacceptable to put Lower Manhattan through this again and we will fight tooth and nail to ensure the public review process that is mandated by the City’s charter. This project has been rushed from the start, didn’t go through the public review process that normally applies to projects of this size, and potentially seeks to take housing property rights from elderly low income New Yorkers and those living with disabilities and give it to developers building luxury housing,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“This is simply an outrage,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “First the Administration says that massive new development does not need a ULURP, then it slips out that there’s an affordable housing deed restriction for a portion of this development that they never mentioned. I trust that courts will recognize the need for public review and perhaps this time the Administration will learn its lesson.”
“The suit filed today lays out precisely why the Two Bridges community deserves and needs a public review process for this development,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “The proposed project will lift a deed restriction intended to reserve housing in perpetuity for ‘elderly and handicapped persons of low income’. The lifting of this deed restriction, coupled with the huge financial rewards for the developers, darkly mirrors the circumstances around the sale of Rivington House in 2015. Yet here we are again, with a project undertaken in a non-transparent way and that will almost assuredly provide windfall profits to developers at the expense of working New Yorkers. Simply put, a ULURP process must take place. The costs to the residents of Two Bridges are too high.”
The Council and Borough President Brewer sued the City, the Department of City Planning and its Director, the City Planning Commission and its Chair, and the Department of Buildings in December to stop construction on the Two Bridges site. They argued that a project of its size – which could produce as much as 3,000 new units of housing – must go through ULURP, the city’s rezoning process.
The redevelopment is roughly the same size as Far Rockaway and Jerome Avenue re-zonings, both of which went through ULURP as required by law.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge ordered a halt on work.