Zero Hour Nears for Solow’s Massive East Side Project

Seven years after Consolidated Edison agreed to sell its 9.2-acre site south of the United Nations, a showdown over the

Seven years after Consolidated Edison agreed to sell its 9.2-acre site south of the United Nations, a showdown over the land’s future appears to be drawing to a close, as a vote on the issue is expected at a City Council committee meeting on Thursday.

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Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents the area, has been in constant talks recently with representatives of site owner Sheldon Solow, the developer who wants to erect seven buildings on the land at heights much taller than Mr. Garodnick and the surrounding community want to see.

Starting far apart on a number of issues on the $4 billion project—in addition to height, Mr. Garodnick wanted to change the use of a commercial building to residential and adjust some of the open-space design—Messrs. Garodnick and Solow seem to be coming down to the wire on hammering out an agreement. A zoning committee missed a vote on Tuesday on the issue, though a spokesperson for Mr. Garodnick said the vote is now slated for Thursday.

The Council must approve any zoning change, though it can impose changes of its own to an application. Without changing the zoning, Mr. Solow would be unable to develop any of the six residential buildings he desires.

If the Council votes down Mr. Solow’s application, the measure would mark a major defeat for a private developer in the land-use approval process.

While many developers drop out of the land-use process before it reaches the Council (it also must receive approval from the City Planning Commission), few, if any, have been handed a “no” vote by the Council.

The site is also unique for another reason: the land is likely Manhattan’s largest undeveloped, privately owned tract, magnifying the significance a “no” vote would have.

Mr. Garodnick’s office declined to comment on the talks with Mr. Solow’s East River Realty Company.

A spokesman for Mr. Solow, Michael Gross, said in a statement that the developer hopes for an agreement. “Over the past several days, both the City Council and Mr. Solow have worked cooperatively together so that the development can come to fruition,” Mr. Gross said.

Zero Hour Nears for Solow’s Massive East Side Project