BREWER’S EARLY STANCE ON RIVERSIDE CENTER

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By Dan Rivoli

Council Member Gale Brewer reiterated her strong support of changing the Riverside Center development at the City Planning Commission’s Sept. 15 public meeting.

Brewer testified that the commission should heed the recommendations offered in a comprehensive report that Community Board 7 issued in July.

“They heard me loud and clear,” Brewer said of the commission. “I usually don’t go to the mat, but this time I’m going to.”

During the last major development on the Upper West Side to go through a public review process—the expansion of Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus—Brewer was more cautious in comments about changes she wanted to see in that project.

This time, the community board issued a 47-page report that recommends greatly scaling Riverside Center down. The breadth and detail of the report earned Brewer’s support, which she is voicing throughout the land use review process.

“To be honest with you, most community boards don’t put this much effort into a document,” she said. “They thought of everything, that’s why I support it.”

Winning Brewer’s support is crucial for Extell’s proposal to pass the City Council, which has the ultimate binding vote. The entire Council often defers to the local member on land use issues. But Extell seemed to reject the board’s recommendations, which call for eliminating an entire building, fully funding the construction of a 150,000-square-foot school and decreasing density.

After Community Board 7 issued its report, an Extell spokesperson said board members “clearly do not recognize the difficulty in developing projects in this uniquely challenging economic environment.”

Extell echoed that sentiment when Borough President Scott Stringer suggested the developer make similar changes.

After the City Planning Commission’s public meeting, Extell spokesperson George Arzt said the developer is talking with all stakeholders to come up with a consensus on Riverside Center.

“This is a long process and we are continuing to talk to the community board and to the borough president and, of course, Gale,” Arzt said.

The City Planning Commission will vote on the proposal by the end of October.

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