Monday, September 30, 2013

Community Protests Playground Land Grab By Related Companies To Build Luxury Tower

 Real estate developers hope to turn Ruppert Playground into yet another high rise, but many upper East Siders say the land grab is illegal.

The massive real estate developer Related Companies hopes to turn this beloved playground into yet another high rise, the law says the land grab is illegal.  Related performed test borings a few months ago on the basketball courts above.  (Photo: Joey Scarborough for New York Daily News)  


Dozens of angry upper East Siders packed a City Council hearing Monday to protest a developer's plans to destroy a beloved 35-year-old Yorkville playground to make room for another luxury tower, according to the New York Daily News.

The Related Companies, a high-end developer, wants to pave over the playground at the center of its existing Carnegie Park property on E. 92nd between Second and Third Aves. — but opponents say the company is making an illegal land grab.

"They have no legal right to build," said Geoffrey Croft, of NYC Park Advocates, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years. "They want to slide it under this administration because this is a real estate-friendly administration."

At issue are conflicting views of city law dating back to the urban renewal era of the 1960s. That law required developers to get permission from area residents before making any changes to open space.

But Related said it was required only to maintain the playground for 25 years when it bought the city-owned land in 1983.

Related maintained the playground until 2011 — and its lawyer urged the Council’s Land-Use Committee to recognize that the company has lived up to the agreement.

The playground has been locked since 2011.
Related Companies locked the playground on September 12,  2011.   (Photo:  Joey Scarborough for New York Daily News)  

"We created our own problem (by creating) a first class park and spending millions of dollars maintaining this land," said lawyer Jesse Masyr. "I don't think it was ever the intention of the (city) for the developers to seek the neighbors' permission when the agreement expired.”

City councilmembers didn't seem convinced.

"This has been a valued park for residents in the neighborhood for many years," said Dan Garodnick (D-Upper East Side). "It is disappointing to all of us that you're going to construct a building on the site."

The proposal includes a 35-story building with more than 200 units of housing — one-quarter of which be below-market rate.

The Land Use Committee did not vote, and its recommendation will be passed along to the full City Council, which often defers to the local councilmember.

Residents hope so.

"This playground was one of the few places where our kids could feel safe, where we built community, organized play dates," said Renee Inniss, who has lived in Yorkville for over 20 years. "My son learned to play basketball there.”

Read More:

Upper East Siders protest ‘land grab’ by Related Companies as towers expands
Developer wants to pave over playground. Foes say law requires Related Companies to get permission of residents. 
New York Daily News - Sepember 30, 2013 - By Joey Scarborough and Tanay Wareker

A Walk In The Park - January 19, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park -  September 14, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft 

A Walk In The Park -  September 11, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft 

Save Ruppert Playground


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