On June 5, 2019, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron extended a temporary restraining order blocking the construction of a development project in the Two Bridges neighborhood in Manhattan. The City Council, represented by ECBAWM, and the Manhattan Borough President sued the City’s development agencies for avoiding the public land use review process, known as ULURP, which requires final approval by the City Council. ECBAWM attorneys Andrew G. Celli Jr., Debbie Greenberger, and David Berman represent the New York City Council.
“Judge slams city lawyers pushing new Two Bridges high-rise buildings,” New York Post
“Judge Grants Temporary Halt On Two Bridges Mega Development After Hearing Three Lawsuits,” Gothamist,
“Judge puts a stop to Two Bridges developments — for now,” The Real Deal
“Two Bridges Foes Win a Round in Suit Over Mayoral Power,” City Limits
On April 18, 2019, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer filed an action to ensure that New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complies with state and local law requiring full community input into its plans to redevelop the Holmes Towers public housing project on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. NYCHA plans to allow a private developer to construct a mixed-income 50-story tower in the middle of the Holmes Towers, obliterating a central playground and large areas of open space that currently occupy the land (shown below) and violating the neighborhood zoning requirements that protect access to light and air. The suit alleges that the NYCHA and the Respondents have acted unlawfully by circumventing the important role of the Borough President and the community in reviewing land use proposals in Manhattan. Through this lawsuit, Borough President Brewer seeks to ensure that the important goal of generating much-needed capital for public housing revitalization does not trump the public and City elected leaders’ roles in decision-making about significant development projects in their community.
The Borough President is represented by ECBAWM attorneys Katie Rosenfeld and Ashok Chandran.
Verified Article 78 & Declaratory Judgment Petition-Complaint and Memorandum of Law in Support of
Petitioner-Plaintiff’s Verified Article 78 Petition
“New Snag in City’s Plan for Private Towers in Public Housing Complexes,” The City
“Gale Brewer sues De Blasio, NYCHA to block UES high-rise,” New York Post
On April 25, 2018, ECBAWM filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Art Society of New York seeking to halt the unlawful construction of a 668-foot residential mega-tower at 200 Amsterdam Avenue which, if completed, would be grossly out of character with the neighborhood and cast long shadows. The lawsuit alleges that the zoning lot upon which the mega-tower would sit—the only justification for the tower’s height—was cobbled together using partial tax lots, in violation of the New York City Zoning Resolution.
On May 14, 2018, plaintiffs secured their first legal victory in the case, obtaining a Stipulation and Order from the Court preventing the developer from using its continued construction efforts to argue that its rights have “vested” – that is, that construction has progressed to the point that the project can no longer be halted. The developer continues work now at its own peril while the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals decides the pending administrative appeal.
The plaintiffs are represented by ECBAWM attorneys Richard D. Emery, Katherine Rosenfeld, and Ashok Chandran.
Following ECBAWM’s victory in federal district court on behalf of its client the City Club of New York, Barry Diller (the billionaire backer) pulled his support for “Pier 55,” a proposed island performance venue in the Hudson River in Manhattan. This victory ensures the preservation of the estuarine sanctuary of the Hudson River as the legislature intended. The controversy could have been avoided if the Hudson River Park Trust had been candid with the Legislature and the public and done a full participatory environmental review. When an agency flouts the law by cutting corners, public-spirited citizens can and should be able to get justice in court. The real lesson of Diller Island is that the Hudson River Park Trust—like every agency that stewards precious public resources—should rededicate itself to core principles of openness, transparency, and conservation. The decision to end the project was covered by the New York Times and New York Daily News, among others.
ECBAWM lawyers Richard Emery, Elizabeth Saylor, Doug Lieb, and David Berman represent the City Club, as well as the other petitioners. Read more about ECBAWM’s work on this project here, here, and in the New York Times.
The New York Attorney General announced a settlement agreement with the German American Settlement League (“GASL”), to continue reforms achieved in a previous settlement obtained by ECBAWM. The GASL, a membership-based nonprofit, was alleged to have excluded non-whites from purchasing homes in its Long Island community since the late 1930s. The new AG settlement includes changes to GASL’s membership policies, the replacement of its President and Treasurer, and regular reporting to the AG to demonstrate compliance.
Plaintiffs in the ECBAWM matter were represented by ECBA attorneys Diane L. Houk and O. Andrew F. Wilson.