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A Word from Our President

Your neighborhood organization, the Turtle Bay Association, has been actively involved since first we heard that the developer Donald Trump had bought the United Engineering Center property on the corner of First Avenue and 47th Street. From the beginning we had worries about what he would do with this site.

We met with Trump and his staff in his office a year ago, joined there by our new neighbor Walter Cronkite. Trump told us then that he had not decided what to do with his new property whether to simply modernize the existing structure or to tear it down and erect a tower. That depended, he said, on financing and getting the city's permission to build a tower on the site. He told us that in either case it would be an ornament to the neighborhood.

You know what happened then; the city's Department of Buildings granted him building permits for an 856-foot tower and Trump lined up financing through Deutsche Bank.

We knew Trump had been negotiating the purchase of air rights from nearby buildings, but what could we do? Because the complex rules governing zoning and land use seemed - the city said - to be "as of right," there were no public hearings.

The building permits were issued September 15, 1998, and only then did Trump openly declare his aim: to erect "the tallest residential building in the world."

In response, TBA has taken the lead in forming the Coalition for Responsible Development, working with elected officials, including Assemblyman John Ravitz and City Council members Andrew Eristoff and Gifford Miller, as well as neighborhood groups and various citywide organizations. Our mission is to stop this project and make sure that Turtle Bay is better protected in the future. Beekman Hill Association, led by Seymour Flug and made up mainly of residents of 860-870 UN Plaza, found a lawyer to represent our neighborhood's interests. He is Donald H. Elliott, a prominent attorney and former chairman of the City Planning Commission.

In our behalf, he sent a 7-page letter on February 4 to the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings, a "request" that the building permit be revoked and a Stop Order issued.The basis of this action was a thorough analysis of the applicable rules and laws regarding zoning and land-use. The city has 30 days in which to respond to this letter, after which there are further administrative and legal remedies available to us.

You will find in these pages more information, which we hope will shed light on this complicated matter. TBA is determined to resist with all its strength the construction of the "Trump World Tower" as proposed. We will do this in close collaboration with other concerned groups.
We need your support in this effort and will keep you informed of progress on legal and political fronts. We will also suggest what you, as citizens and neighbors, can do to help this cause.

Over the past 40 years, TBA has fought and won critical battles to preserve our neighborhood. These include stopping the city's plan to make 49th Street a widened express street, preventing mid-block skyscrapers on several of our streets, stopping the noisy and dangerous helicopter flights from the roof of the Pan AM building, and blocking the city's plan to put a large traffic center on Third Avenue and 48th-49th Streets.
This struggle to block the monstrous Trump building may be our hardest test, but we are not alone. A groundswell has been growing, and the Coalition is gaining momentum. The community-wide effort includes building a war chest by raising funds to carry on this battle. We count on your support, and you can count on our vigorous action.

William E. Curtis, TBA President


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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
(212) 751-5465
Fax (212) 751-4941


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