Chinatown to City: Stop Luxury Towers

Community groups from Chinatown and the Lower East Side rallied on Jan. 18, calling on City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to oppose the city’s appeal of a court decision blocking the construction of four luxury towers on the waterfront near the Manhattan Bridge.

The city is appealing a February 2020 ruling by State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron in a lawsuit by Lower East Side Organized Neighbors. The judge held that the city’s approval of the planned Two Bridges development, four towers ranging from 63 to 80 stories that will be 75 percent market-rate apartments, contradicted the area’s zoning. Neither the city nor the developers could claim the project would have no impact on the surrounding neighborhood’s light and air, he said.

“Our working-class community of color has fought tirelessly to protect ourselves from mass displacement, air pollution, pervasive loss of sunlight, and the destruction of neighborhood character that these towers would cause,” the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side wrote in its letter to Johnson, noting his statements that land-use decisions should be made “in partnership with communities.”

At a state appeals-court hearing on Jan. 27, the city argued that it did not have to consider the development’s effect, because a 1972 special zoning had exempted the waterfront from the usual land-use review procedures.