Constitutional Protections for Environmental Rights Latest Roadblock for NYC Megaproject

The latest in a series of lawsuits against a megaproject proposed for Manhattan is the first to sue on the grounds provided by a constitutional amendment approved by the state of New York a year ago.

Read Time: 2 minutes

November 27, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

A view of the Manhattan Bridge with the Empire State Building in the distance.

The Manhattan Bridge with the proposed development site for the Two Bridges megaproject in the background. | f11photo / Shutterstock

The state of New York implemented a constitutional amendment in 2021 that guaranteed a right to clean air and water for every New Yorker. Now the amendment, known at the time as Proposal 2, is creating legal difficulty for a mega-development proposal known as the Two Bridges project, according to an article by Julianne Cuba for Streetsblog NYC.

The Two Bridges project was first proposed in 2016 and won approval from the New York City Planning Commission in 2018. Cuba explains the scope and details of the project, which is named for its location between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, as follows:

Currently, the Two Bridges project includes 69- and 62-story towers that will connect to one another via a lobby at 260 South St., which is owned by Chetrit Group; a 63-story tower at 259 Clinton St., which is owned by Starrett Corporation; and an 80-story tower at 247 Cherry St., which is owned by JDS. Those projects would join an existing 80-story tower at 225 Cherry St. that was built in 2019. It will include a total of about 2,775 new units, roughly 25 percent of which, or 694, would be so-called affordable, including 200 units set aside specifically for low-income senior housing. It would also include new amenities like community facility space, retail, outdoor space, according to the project documents.

The legal saga of the project has challenged the project’s zoning and lack of formal process as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure—both a result of the city’s designation of the area as a “Large-Scale Residential Development” area in 1972, according to Cuba. The new lawsuit, however, is the first in the city’s history to protest a development based on the new constitutional amendment.

“The latest lawsuit was filed last month by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of 12 plaintiffs from the Lower East Side and Chinatown, and Council Member Christopher Marte, who represents the area,” reports Cuba.

A lot more detail is available at the feature-length article linked below.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022 in StreetsBlog NYC

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