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
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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Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community
224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
Fax (212) 751-4941