Sutton Place Residents Fight Plan For 79-Story Tower

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People from the iconic East Side neighborhood of Sutton Place have banded together to stop the construction of a giant glass tower.

As CBS2’s Emily Smith reported, the proposed project has become what some call a David vs. Goliath a race between the residents and the developer. The residents are now fighting to get their neighborhood rezoned.

Along the East River, the charming Sutton Place community is found and around on the street of the same name, from 52nd Street to 59th Street. But it has been anything put peaceful as some residents fight plans for the building that would dwarf its neighbors.

“It would be sitting here in this space like a monstrosity cantilevering out,” said Lisa Mercurio of Sutton Place.

“You put a tall building up on the street – on a street; a side street; a residential neighborhood like this, you’re going to lose light. You’re going to lose quality of life,” said Bonnie Behrend of Sutton Place.

“Sutton Place is historic if you walk up and down that beautiful avenue,” said Melissa Mittman of Sutton Place. Many residents point out that the Vanderbilt family once owned a home in Sutton Place.

The new plan calls for a 79-story residential tower. But the developer, Gamma, does not have a permit yet due to an incomplete application submission, according to the Department of Buildings.

Now it is a race, as Sutton Place residents try to get a rezoning plan approved first that would cap buildings at 24 stories. City Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-4th) said most every neighborhood in the city has a height limit for development – except Sutton Place.

He said it is due to outdated zoning restrictions – a quirk that dates back to the last time it was looked at in 1961.

“This is a glaring loophole in the zoning resolution which needs to be fixed. It should have been fixed a long time ago,” Garodnick said. “We have a proposal to do just that.”

Meanwhile, Garodnick has sent several letters to the Department of Buildings asking officials to not to approve any permits for a high-rise – at least until the residents’ rezoning plan gets some attention.

A representative of the developer, Gama, called the neighbors’ proposal “self-serving.”

“It will set a dangerous precedent that threatens to hamper the progress of not only our project, but also our city as a whole,” the statement said.

In response, some Sutton Place residents say they welcome anything that stymies big development and preserves the character of Sutton Place.

Rezoning Sutton Place would ultimately be up to Mayor Bill de Blasio. But first, the proposal has to go through a lengthy process, including a public hearing.

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