Category Archives: News Updates

Client News: ERFA’s New Zoning Plan to Stop Supertowers

East River Fifties Alliance Files New Zoning Plan, Promotes Affordable Housing; Manhattan Borough President Brewer, City Council Members Kallos and Garodnick, and State Senator Krueger Co-Sign

After months of intense preparation, our clients, the East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA), just filed a new zoning plan for Manhattan’s Far East 50s (the area between 52nd Street and 59th Street, east of 1st Avenue) with the Department of City Planning. The new zoning plan would restrict supertowers and out-of-scale development in that neighborhood, while providing for affordable housing. Not only that, but they had an elite list of co-filers: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, and State Senator Liz Krueger.

This proposal, created via a partnership between the community (through ERFA) and city planners, is one of the most sweeping community residential re-zoning plans in City history, and the first plan of its kind to include affordable housing as a component.

Currently, the Far East Fifties is vulnerable to gigantic megatower development because its zoning is left over from the 1960s and sets no specific height limits on apartment buildings. It’s the last residential-only segment of the city that remains without such protections. (The same zoning is generally limited to busy commercial or mixed use avenues in Manhattan.)  In fact, one developer has already proposed a wildly oversized 1,000 foot megatower on East 58th Street between First Avenue and Sutton Place that would dwarf the entire neighborhood. ERFA is working to prevent not only that project but all others like it.

Affordable Housing

As Mayor de Blasio has voiced repeatedly, NYC needs affordable housing badly. ERFA not only agrees, but the neighborhood is welcoming such opportunities with open arms. This new zone would urge developers to devote at least 25% of new units to affordable housing in the neighborhood.

As it stands, the East River Fifties’ R10 zone and equivalent zones throughout the city only create about 4-5% affordable units with each new development. If fully implemented, the ERFA plan would nearly quadruple the amount of affordable housing in new developments in our neighborhood. The details of how that goal could be best met – whether by making the affordable housing component mandatory, voluntary, or by some other formulation – will be determined in ERFA’s negotiations with City Planning. it will enter a review process that moves through the various levels of New York City’s government for approval. You can learn more about ERFA and its new zoning plan at

The media is already excited and we’ve received a slew of stories. Here are a few: City Land (New York Law School), Crain’s New York Business, Curbed, DNA Info, Manhattan Express, New York Daily News, Our Town Press, Realty Today, and The Real Deal.

NYU in the News

It’s been a while but, NYUFASP is still around and making waves. On September 24th, there will be a hearing of oral arguments for the City’s appeal (in conjunction with NYU) to Justice Donna Mills’ January ruling that the city acted illegally when it gave three out of four parcels of parkland to NYU for its 2031 expansion plan in July of 2012.

The hearing will take place at 2pm on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at

The New York State Supreme Court: Appellate Division – First Department
27 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Tel. (212) 340-0400

We hope you join us to support the Village community and NYUFASP’s efforts to #SavetheVillage.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest news about the administration at one of NYC’s largest universities:

The New York Times Dealbook: Wall Street Hand Stays the Stormy Course at N.Y.U.

NYU Local: Future Head Of NYU Board Of Trustees Made Millions Off Student Loans

Affordable Housing at Atlantic Yards in the News!

The issue of affordable housing has been popping up everywhere in the news lately. We couldn’t be more delighted to announce that our clients, members of BrooklynSpeaks, were just featured in two great TV interviews about the recent deal struck at Atlantic Yards that guarantees completion of all affordable units by 2025.

Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC), joined Marjona Jones, who has worked on behalf of Brown Community Development Corporation (BCDC), on ABC7’s “Here and Now” show to talk about the new agreement, how it affects the community, and what it will mean for future developments.

Michelle de la Uz, Marjona Jones and host Sandra Bookman on ABC7’s “Here and Now.”


Nick Powell, City Hall Bureau Chief for City & State, sat down with Michelle de la Uz for an in depth discussion about the ramifications of delaying promised delivery of affordable housing, the implications of the project’s name change from Atlantic Yards to Pacific Park, and the details involved in qualifying for an affordable housing lottery.

Top Artists, Writers, Actors and Community Join Faculty to Save the Village from NYU’s Huge Expansion; Matthew Modine Blasts NYU as “Bullying, Land- Grabbing Scrooge”

This holiday season, how would you like to have dessert and drinks with Cynthia Nixon and her wife Christine Marinoni? Have lunch with Bill Moyers, Fran Lebowitz or Lewis Lapham?  “Hulk Out” with a signed mask and set of figurines from Mark Ruffalo? Go on a two-hour shopping expedition, to curate your pantry and spice collection, with Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi?  Play basketball with John Leguizamo? Get a signed copy of Bianca Jagger’s ‘Arts for Human Rights’ event catalogue? Get a book signed by E.L. Doctorow, a manuscript page from Philip Glass, an uncorrected galley of Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Vol.1, an Alex Katz print, a photograph of William S. Burroughs by Gary Indiana, a painting by actor Joel Grey, signed copies of all Eric Bogosian’s published works, or a signed personal photo by Matthew Modine from the set of Full Metal Jacket?  Become the owner of the rare Omas fountain pen that former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine used to write The Mercy? Snap up a poster signed by Edward Norton?

Hang a gorgeous Carol Friedman photograph of Iggy Pop on your living room wall, tour the best hamburger restaurants in the East Village, or have a private makeup application lesson with Hollywood makeup artist Nicki Ledermann (Boardwalk Empire, Side Effects)?

Right now, all those boldface names—and others—are taking part in an online auctionto help fund the struggle that NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (NYUFASP) and Village residents and supporters are waging against NYU’s ruinous 2031 expansion plan—a project that will crush the Village. The auction lasts until December 18th.

“I can think of no worthier cause than saving the Village from overdevelopment. This neighborhood is one of the most iconic parts of the City and precisely what makes New York so special,” said Padma Lakshmi.

Actor Matthew Modine, 30 years a Villager, said, “NYU has moved from being a friendly neighbor to a power hungry, land grabbing, politician buying, bullying Scrooge. I encourage everyone that loves the Village to lend their support and voice to protecting this beloved oasis of Manhattan.”


Other auction items include:

Nearly 170 individuals and businesses have donated items to the auction, which range in value from $25. to $8,000. The silent online auction runs from December 9 until December 18.

Bidders will base their choices on a range of pictures and descriptions of each item, and will be notified by email when they are outbid.


Week of October 14, 2013

Not only do we have a beautiful new website (we’re still excited about that), our clients are doing some pretty great things too! We don’t usually like to brag about ourselves, but we’re happy to do so, on their behalf. This week, our top stories include NYUFASP’s fundraiser and NHSNYC’s collaboration in helping a family purchase its “dream home.”

NYU Faculty Against the Sexton Plan (NYUFASP) held a fundraising cocktail party event in the penthouse of The Standard East Village hotel. The view of the sunset over the city was a spectacular backdrop while Professor Mark Crispin Miller, village resident and author Fran Lebowitz, representatives of NYU’s Student Labor Action Movement, Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, assemblywoman Deborah Glick, Public Advocate candidate Letitia James, former mayoral candidate Sal Albanese, and NYU CAS doctoral student and teaching assistant Alex Manowitz gave speeches.

Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHSNYC) teamed up with Wells Fargo’s CityLIFTSM program, HPD’s (NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development) HomeFirst program, and Citibank’s Not for Profit and Faith Based Grant to create a package of grants and financial resources that allowed the Miya family to buy their “dream home,” a condo in Parkchester, Bronx. The multi-generational immigrant family of six has been saving for years, and was finally able to purchase the home thanks to this partnership between public, private and nonprofit groups. NHS held a ribbon cutting for the Family on Friday; in addition to several representatives from each of the participating entities, the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda and a representative from Congressman Serrano’s office attended to congratulate them.

NHSNYC, which has seven offices throughout New York City, recently opened an office in Canarsie, specifically to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. This effort will be further supported now that the Brooklyn Community Foundation, with the help of the American Red Cross, has announced new grants totaling $1,167,000 to continue funding the efforts of the five Community Collaboratives it established in the wake of Superstorm Sandy (Red Hook, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Canarsie). As part of the Canarsie Collaborative, NHS will use this opportunity to further extend our aid to the individuals, businesses and infrastructures that are still struggling in Sandy’s wake.

Week of September 23

Not only do we have a brand new website (we’re so excited), our clients are doing some pretty great things too! We don’t usually like to brag about ourselves, but we’re happy to do so, on their behalf. This week, our top stories include Theater Three Collaborative‘s staged play reading, CityPoint‘s day in court, and Prof. Micha Tomkiewicz‘s blog printed in the newspaper.

Theater Three Collaborative performed a reading of selected excerpts of their new climate change play, “Extreme Whether, on September 23rd at Columbia University as part of The Human Impact Institute’s 10 days of Climate Action. You can also read our interview with Arctic ice scientist Dr. Jennifer Francis, whose science was featured in the play.

The CityPoint petitioners turned out several hundred people at a rally in front of the Manhattan State Supreme Court (60 Centre Street) prior to the court hearing on Tuesday, September 24th. Union and community groups, along with Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley, filed the Article 78 suit in May to demand fair wages and benefits for construction workers at the publicly subsidized City Point project in downtown Brooklyn. The crowd included various construction unions, local community groups and several elected officials. Both sides have presented their arguments, but the judge has yet to release a verdict. The developer Acadia Realty Trust, which is responsible for the CityPointproject, has been involved in a controversial back and forth with Assemblymember Mosley. Acadia printed an ad calling for Mosley to back out of the law suit, while Mosley responded by calling them out on their lies, after finding that the two alleged signees of the letter against him had neither written it nor authorized the use of their names.

Prof. Micha Tomkiewicz, who writes the blog Climate Change Fork, just had one of his blogs reprinted in a local Brooklyn Paper, “Our Time Press.” This success follows his recent hour long interview with Pleasantville Community TV, in which he discusses climate change, the democratization of science, his history as a Holocaust survivor and why he views climate change as a “self-perpetrating genocide.” One of his posts was also featured recently on the widely read and respected blog, Skeptical Science.


Neighborhood Housing Services participated with other housing agencies to find Eligible potential home buyers who could qualify for a $30,000mortgage down payment grant on any home in the Bronx or Brooklyn through Wells Fargo’s $9.5 million CityLIFTSM program.The program was quite successful and NHS is pleased to announce that its first mortgage, given to a family for a home in the Bronx, has successfully closed. More information coming soon.

Energy Vision did a “white towel test” to see the difference in particulates emitted by old diesel refuse trucks versus the new natural gas models.  Here is a video of the results– it’s pretty shocking.