Manhattan’s Community Board 6 has unanimously approved a Midtown rezoning plan that may block the construction of Gamma Real Estate’s planned 700-foot tall Sutton 58 condo tower.
The proposal aims to impose a height cap of 260 feet for new buildings in a multi-block portion of the Sutton Place area. The plan was submitted by the East River Fifties Alliance, a group of local residents that have the backing of officials such as State Senator Liz Krueger and City Council members Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos.
The rezoning proposal was certified by the City Planning Commission last month, clearing the way for a formal public review similar to the city’s Uniform Land Use Procedure. The plan has some powerful advocates for the rest of the review process. With the community board vote now complete, the proposal will be sent to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who is likely to approve the plan. Brewer is one of the early backers of the proposal. She previously stated that she would sign off on the plan if it passes City Planning review.
Advocates for the proposal cheered the decision, describing it as a win for affordable housing. “This is a victory for thousands of residents from hundreds of buildings in and out of the neighborhood who have organized a grassroots application that would use height as an incentive to include affordable housing in any new building,” Kallos said. “Now we look to the Mayor and City Planning to choose affordable housing over buildings for billionaires.”
“We have been working with the Department of City Planning for almost two years in order to get this far. Now, we are more energized than ever,” added Alan Kersh, the President of the ERFA.
Jonathan Kalikow, the president of Gamma Real Estate, criticized the results of the community board vote. He reiterated the argument that the proposal came from rich residents of nearby luxury tower The Sovereign. He claims that the people behind the plan are only interested in preserving their views.
“Community Board 6’s decision to approve ERFA’s application – an illegal attempt to “spot zone” the Sutton 58 Project – not only threatens the future of projects like Sutton 58, but also could inflict long-lasting damage across this neighborhood. Simply put, this was not a well-considered plan,” he said.
“This self-serving proposal is not about community zoning. Rather, it is designed to protect the special interests of a small group of Community Board 6 members, many of whom reside at The Sovereign, a large luxury apartment building located adjacent to the Sutton 58 site. At every step, this application has been wholly driven by the desire of these residents to preserve views, not to benefit their community.”
The final stop for the proposal would be the City Council, where legislators will have 50 days to evaluate the plan. Kallos and Garodnick are likely to advocate for the rezoning in the chamber.
Gamma acquired the site, located at 430 East 58th Street, in a foreclosure auction last December. The firm scaled down the plans from the previous owner, Bauhaus Group, which filed for a 950-foot tall building designed by Norman Foster. Gamma is looking to build a 262,069 s/f property with 125 apartment units. Planned amenities include a yoga room, a party room and bike storage.
Gamma has already started construction on the project. If the proposal is approved, the company would be forced to halt construction or alter its plans.