‘My house is sinking’: Two Bridges residents call for independent monitor to protect their community

Two Bridges residents pleaded Wednesday for an independent monitor to oversee the planned construction of residential towers in their neighborhood which they believe could not only damage their homes, but also cause health issues.

Lisa Woody has spent her entire 55 years living in the Two Bridges area, in fact she was even born there. She says the Lower Manhattan community has been her home sweet home when nobody wanted it, but now she is worried a big developer could not only take it away, but they could also cause her serious health problems. 

Woody told amNewYork Metro that she already lives on literal unsteady ground. Believing her apartment to be sinking, she showcased a dramatic slant in her kitchen and even went as far as to exclaim that she must prop up her cooker in order to prevent pans from falling. She is afraid construction could cause further damage.

Lisa Wood says her entire kitchen is on a slant. Photo by Dean Moses

“Sometimes when I walk around, I feel dizzy. We have a problem with mice. We have a problem with roaches. We have a problem with maintenance not being able to properly fix things that so badly needs to be fixed,” Woody said. “You can’t continue to put new stuff on top of old stuff and think it’s going to be okay. We are fighting here. My mother fought for this place. I fought for my place. And now my daughter is fighting for her place.”

Woody joined a rally led by Councilman Christopher Marte outside her apartment building at 265 Cherry Street on Feb. 9 to demand an independent monitor be employed to supervise construction on top of soil locals believe to contain toxins.

In 2016, L+M Development Partners unveiled a joint venture with CIM Group to create two rental towers with commercial space.  The controversial project was taken to court to determine if City Council would have to provide their approval before the construction could take place; however, it was ruled that this was not the case, and the project could proceed.

Residents called for an independent monitor. Photo by Dean Moses

According to the Real Deal, in November 2021 the site, 265 South Street is the process of being sold to the Chertit Group for $100 million.

“When we spoke to the Office of Environmental Remediation (OER), and when OER came to our community board, they said that while they do the remediation, knowing that there’s petroleum and heavy metals underneath there, they’re going to allow the developer to do construction. That is unacceptable,” Marte said, surrounded by residents.

Convinced their health and safety is at stake, residents feel an independent monitor would put medical security over profits.

“They are taking our land and now our air,” one local tenant yelled.

Marte isn’t the only elected official standing by residents, State Senator Brian Kavanagh also joined the protest, expressing his own concerns.

Longtime residents say they feel like their lives are in danger. Photo by Dean Moses
Even as residents rally, the earth they are afraid of was bring dug up around them. Photo by Dean Moses

“Toxic substances are going to be unearthed as part of a processes intended to generally get rid of the toxins, right? And remediation is good. But as we make up for the failure of prior generations to protect communities, to the fact that they use these toxins, very casually that they use toxic fill to fill in sites like this where residential buildings are going to be. We need to make sure we’re doing it properly. We need to make sure we’re doing it carefully. And we need to make sure that the community is fully informed, so the community has that confidence that those things are happening, that this has been done carefully and is protected with the residents,” Kavanagh said.

With many of the residents being third and even fourth generation tenants, they feel the towers are just the latest attempt at gentrifying a Black and Brown neighborhood.

After this article went live, a spokesperson for Two Bridges Associates released this statement: “We are committed to providing an independent monitor to help ensure a safe remediation process. In fact, we are required to do so by the Department of City Planning and it is memorialized in the Restrictive Declaration that is recorded against the land.” 

Two Bridges Associates also clarified that mixed-income housing will be provided within these towers, not luxury towers, as previously claimed.

265 Cherry Street as seen from above. Photo by Dean Moses