Press Release

Court Nullifies Approvals for 4 Residential Towers in Manhattan's Chinatown/Lower East Side

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New York City…Today, a New York Supreme Court justice ruled that the developers’ plans for four high-rise towers in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the Lower East Side violate the New York City Zoning Resolution and nullified the approvals needed for the proposed projects.

The case, Lower East Side Organized Neighbors v. The New York City Planning Commission, was brought by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) on behalf of several community organizations and individuals: the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors (LESON), National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS), Youth Against Displacement (YAD), Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association (CSWA), and residents of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. They succeeded in blocking approval of four luxury megatowers located at 247 Cherry Street, 260 South Street, and 259 Clinton Street in the Two Bridges neighborhood of Lower Manhattan.

In his eight-page decision, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found that “the plain language of ZR 78-043 mandates the findings that the Planning Commission must make in approving any modification, by special permit or otherwise.” The approvals of these towers were nullified and the Planning Commission was directed to make findings pursuant to ZR 78-313 as a condition of proceeding with any projects in the Two Bridges Large Scale Residential Development (LSRD)..

This legal victory will prevent developers from tripling the density of the neighborhood by adding almost 3,000 new luxury units, causing an affordability and displacement crisis for thousands of working-class residents.

Zishun Ning, a community organizer with LESON, said: “Hard work and organizing pays off. When the community is strong, it impacts popular opinion and shows that the City’s displacement agenda can be defeated. This is an important victory, but we won’t stop here—we will keep fighting for the passage of the full Chinatown Working Group Plan.”

Ken Kimerling, AALDEF Legal Director, said: “We are glad that the Court heard the voices of the community, and nullified the approvals of these four supertall towers. Today is a major victory for our clients, neighborhood activists, and Two Bridges residents. By banding together, they blocked a project that would have had devastating impacts on Asian and Latino low-income residents, including NYCHA tenants, and spell the end for affordability in the neighborhood.”

A copy of the decision can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:
Ken Kimerling, AALDEF Legal Director
212.966.5932 x203

Audrey Winn
Skadden Fellow
212.966.5932 x220