Crain's New York City Planning Commission Paves Path Forward for Sutton Place tower by Joe Anuta

Crain's New York
City Planning Commission Paves Path Forward for Sutton Place tower
Joe Anuta

The saga of Sutton 58 took another turn Wednesday when the City Planning Commission created a path for the 800-foot project to proceed, even as the neighborhood around it is set to be rezoned for squatter buildings.

Supported by elected officials, local residents had submitted a proposal to rezone 10 blocks of Sutton Place sidestreets to prevent tall, skinny towers. Ostensibly, the idea was to produce new buildings that more closely mirror existing stock without reducing the area's density. The real goal, however, was to stop the condo project being built by Gamma Real Estate.

Though it approved the rezoning, the planning commission inserted a clause allowing buildings already underway to be grandfathered into the current rules.

"I do not believe that land-use applications should be wielded to stop individual developments," said Kenneth Knuckles, vice chair of the commission. "New York City's property owners have a reasonable expectation of predictability that we should take into account ... I believe it to be important to include a grandfathering provision to ensure property owners are not left in the lurch with rules that change midstream."

Gamma's victory was short lived, however, as Ben Kallos, the Upper East Side's city council member, vowed to snip the newly created lifeline once the proposal lands on his desk.

"I disagree with the grandfathering clause, and I plan to remove it from this application and move forward," he told Crain's.

Kallos plans to have his colleagues vote on the altered rezoning by the end of the month.

Time is of the essence because Gamma could still beat the clock by completing its foundation before any new zoning rules are passed—another route to grandfathering the project. Should the firm fail, it would have limited options to try and appeal its predicament.