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Michael Stern’s Plans for 1K-Ft-Tall Apartment Tower in Lower Manhattan Halted

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Michael Stern, the chief executive of JDS

JDS Development’s plan to construct a close to 1,000 feet tall apartment building in lower Manhattan has been put on hold by the Department of City Planning.

Last month, JDS received a letter from the department that said a lawsuit involving a nearby site needed to be resolved before it would approve the developer’s plans to construct an 80-story rental building at 80 Rutgers Slip, on the corner of Cherry Street.

In a letter to Michael Stern, the chief executive of JDS, the director of City Planning’s Manhattan office Edith Hsu-Chen wrote, “It has come to our attention that rights to use the floor area required for this project is in dispute.”

Hsu-Chen said that until the pending litigation is resolved, JDS’ application for a slight modification to a previously approved neighborhood redevelopment plan would be placed “on hold.”

Crain’s reports, “Developers Gary Spindler and Roy Schoenberg are suing nonprofits Settlement Housing Fund and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council for backing out of their deal to sell to them 235 Cherry St., a site adjacent to JDS’ project. Instead, Settlement Housing Fund and Two Bridges Neighborhood Council worked out a separate deal to sell development rights from 235 Cherry St. to JDS. The extra rights would allow JDS to build its 500,000-square-foot tower at 80 Rutgers Slip.

Attorneys from Herrick Feinstein, the law firm representing Spindler and Schoenberg in the suit, said the deal with JDS would deprive Spindler and Schoenberg of the development rights they need for the roughly 300,000-square-foot mixed-use project they are planning at 235 Cherry St. JDS’ project, a skyscraper propped on stilts that would literally sit above an existing 10-story apartment building, would cantilever over 235 Cherry.

JDS is not named in the litigation, but Raymond Hannigan, an attorney at Herrick said that Spindler and Schoenberg are ‘examining all of our rights respecting JDS and these latest developments. Our purpose is to enforce the sale contract and enforce the development rights.’

Alexa Sewell, the chief executive of Settlement Housing, said back in April that she was “100% certain” that the organization and Two Bridges would win Spindler and Schoenberg’s lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Settlement Housing Fund said, “We are working to clear up any questions and are confident both that the application will move forward consistent with DCP procedures and that the pending litigation will be resolved in our favor.”

City Planning’s letter is just the most recent in a slew of attempts by New York to halt or delay the construction of high-rising residential towers. Developer Fosun’s plans for work on a project in midtown was stopped by the city Department of Buildings. The department also stopped work on an ultra-luxury tower on the Upper East Side that was planned by DDG.

Charles Bernstein

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