OPINION: Architecture of hell on the Lower East Side

March 15, 2019

President Human-Scale NYC, member DID

Among the many horrors of overdevelopment we face in Lower Manhattan, the most heartbreaking has to be the vision of a dystopic future seen in the renderings of a series of projects slated for Two Bridges. These megaprojects would radically and irrevocably alter this Lower East Side neighborhood along the East River, between the Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridges.

One tower is already up, four more are to come. You know the drill: They are over-scaled, corporate, anonymous and painful to look at. And they’re packed to the gills with private amenities designed to allow the wealthy to separate themselves from the rest of us 24/7, 365 days a year.

Three new megatower developments — with a total of four actual towers — are slated for the Two Bridges area. The copper-colored building closest to the Manhattan Bridge has already been erected and finishing construction on it is currently being done.

These towers will do nothing to alleviate the housing shortage for those at the bottom of the housing market. That’s because the projects’ displacement effects will dwarf the number of moderate-income units that come baked into the deal. So, is it worth it? No way.

It’s a great unmeasurable folly to limit our judgment of such monster projects to the number of pretend “affordable” housing units they create.

It is just and normal to also judge these projects on other criteria: the civic values they embody, the degree to which they enrich an oligarchic developer class, the livability and joys of the neighborhood that are destroyed versus created, the superior alternatives foregone, the shadows these behemoths cast, and the pleasure or pain they give our eyes when we gaze upon them.

When all is done, is what we lose worth more than what we gain, factoring in all those intangibles that cannot be priced, like sunlight?

These towers fail on all counts and portend a terrible future for New York: Read more here

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