By Lee Frankel
The fate of the mega-tower currently being built at 430 East 58th Street is unclear. The story presents a tangled web of issues that typify community opposition to Big Real Estate, with the involvement of the city’s bureaucracy. The moral: prepare for a long, hard fight, expect the unexpected, and don’t give up.
In early December, the East River 50s Alliance (ERFA) announced success in rezoning the Sutton area to exclude out-of-scale development. Despite a Stop Work Order (SWO) from the Department of Buildings (DOB),
Gamma Real Estate, continued constructing a super-tall building based on the original plans, which are not compliant with the new law.
Rather than submit new plans as required, Gamma has appealed to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) holding that it began work on the foundation prior to the new law, and so the project should be grandfathered – allowed to be built according to the original plans. Among the considerations is the extent of progress on the foundation at the time the new law was adopted on November 30, 2017, an issue that ERFA believes will be central to the BSA’s finding.
In a further twist, ERFA discovered that, despite the zoning change, the DOB has partially rescinded its SWO and has given Gamma permission to perform additional work on the 58th Street building’s foundation. In response to questions, DOB explained to Council Member Ben Kallos that the additional work was authorized in order to stabilize the buildings next to the construction site, but that the new foundation work was unlikely to help Gamma with its BSA appeal.
The story will not end anytime soon. Gamma’s BSA appeal has just begun and has a long way to go. In evaluating requests for grandfathering, the BSA generally requires a great deal of information to be provided by the applicant and conducts public hearings before making a decision.
Community opponents, however, will not be backing down. ERFA, supported by Council Member Ben Kallos of Manhattan’s 4th Council District, Community Board 8, Sutton Area Community and the Turtle Bay Association are will work to stop Gamma and achieve a building compliant with the new zoning and with the community’s desire for a livable and pleasant neighborhood.
In an update on December 31, ERFA President Alan Kersh stated that “ERFA will be a very strong voice for this neighborhood in opposition to BSA approval of Gamma’s request.”
Look for continuing coverage of this story on the TBA’s website and in future issues of the Turtle Bay News. Readers can find further details at erfa.nyc.
This article is based upon reports by Alan Kersh, President of ERFA.