CBS News 2 New York Council Stopped Midtown Tower Project At Behest Of Wealthy Neighbors, Developer Claims by Jessica Borga

CBS News 2 New York
Council Stopped Midtown Tower Project At Behest Of Wealthy Neighbors, Developer Claims
Jessica Borga

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction on upscale condominiums has been stopped in its tracks on Manhattan’s east side.

New zoning rules now say the controversial tower is too tall.

It’s known as Sutton 58 — the site of a 62-story condo building under construction.

 Last Thursday, a City Council vote to limit the construction of tall towers on side streets in the area, led to a stop-work order.

“New Yorkers are sick and tired of out-of-control, out-of-scale overdevelopment, and for so very long, no one would stand up for real estate,” City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5th) said.

The condo building on 58th Street near Sutton Place is designed to be taller than the co-op across the street.

Residents there have been fighting construction for two years and consider the council vote a victory.

“The tower is completely out of scale, it’s not in context with the neighborhood which is residential,” Lisa Mercurio, East River Fifties Alliance said.

Developer Jonathan Kalikow said his project was targeted and that the council vote to stop construction was unfairly fast-tracked.

“They’re doing it at the behest of a wealthy group of individuals who didn’t want their views blocked,” he said.

The developer said the foundation is 95 percent finished, and it would’ve taken less than two weeks to complete.

City rules allow construction to continue after a zone change if the foundation is 100 percent complete.

The developer said he’ll take the case to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals.

“At the end of the day, we will have this building,” Kalikow said.

“It sounds like there’s still the opportunity for the developer to build a large building, just not as out-of-scale with the community as the original plan,” the mayor said.

John Banks, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said developers should be able to trust that properties they invest in can be built under existing zoning rules.

“It says you have to think carefully about what you plan to develop and where, because groups and organizations that can do this will use it now that a precedent has been established,” he said.

Right now, the site remains boarded up.

It’s anyone’s guess as to how high in the sky it can be.

The developer said the process of filing an administrative objection with the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals can take six months or longer. He also said about 100 construction workers have been laid off in the meantime.

Affordable Housing