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Battle Brews Over Marx Brothers Playground in Path of NYC Tower

  • A $1 billion Upper East Side apartment building is at stake
  • Opponents fear precedent would gobble up precious open space
Rendering of the tower on 96th St. and 2nd Ave.
Rendering of the tower on 96th St. and 2nd Ave.Source: Perkins Eastman Architects

Groucho Marx once said that politics is the art of looking for trouble. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito have found it in a playground named for the comedian and his brothers in their old neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The two officials support a developer’s $1 billion plan to build a 760-foot-high tower -- the tallest north of 60th Street -- on 1.5 acres of land where kids have played ball for generations. The project would include as many as 1,200 apartment units in one building, as well as the first schools to be built in the neighborhood in almost 50 years.