New York, NY – Judge Arthur Engoron on Thursday ruled
in favor of New York City Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale A.
Brewer in their lawsuit contending that the proposed mega tower developments in
the Two Bridges neighborhood must go through the public review process.
In 2016, the Department of City Planning contended in a ‘staff level
determination’ that the proposed projects for the Two Bridges site, which would
soar over the current low-rise neighborhood as tall as 80 stories–are merely
“minor modifications” to the existing large scale residential
development and do not require a ULURP approval process.
The lawsuit brought by Brewer and the City Council argued
that the “minor modification” analysis is simply nonsense and that
these projects effectively rewrite the Special Permits granted in the area, and
demanded that these projects go through public review.
The court found “(t)he irreparable harm here is two-fold.
First, a community will be drastically altered without having had its proper
say. Second, and arguably more important, allowing this project to proceed
without the City Council’s imprimatur would distort the City’s carefully
crafted system of checks and balances. Under ULURP, the City Council’s
mandatory role is not merely to advise, but to grant or deny final approval
(with the Mayor). Without ULURP, the City’s legislature is cut out of the
“The Council has for years said this project – which would
totally transform the Two Bridges neighborhood – requires public review and
ultimately City Council approval,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “We’re
very grateful that the State Supreme Court agreed and that the community, the
Borough President, and the City Council will have an opportunity to provide
real input and help shape the future of this neighborhood.”
“I’m so gratified that Judge Engoron has ruled in our favor,
and that the Two Bridges developments—which will have a ‘huge’ impact on the
neighborhood—must undergo the ULURP process. I’m grateful that Council member
Chin and Speaker Johnson came together to support our suit and we were
successful,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
“Judge Engoron’s ruling is a victory for the Two Bridges community
and demonstrates the power of every day New Yorkers when they come together and
fight,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “For three years, we have rallied
and petitioned. As a final step, we sued the City to trigger the public review
process that the proposed mega towers in Two Bridges demanded. Through it all,
I was motivated by a single goal—ensuring that the residents of Two Bridges
have a say in the future of their neighborhood. Judge Engoron’s decision
vindicates our efforts and, just as importantly, empowers the voices of those
most impacted by the displacement and gentrification of the proposed mega
towers. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his inclusive and courageous
leadership and Borough President Brewer for her invaluable partnership.
Finally, I want to extend my gratitude to the Two Bridges community for their
steadfast commitment to the public review process.”