New York Business Journal Elected officials urge action against 'Billionaires' Row' towers, super-tall buildings by Lauren Clark
Joining forces with advocacy groups, several city lawmakers are urging the City Planning Department to take action on the "superscrapers" sprouting up in Midtown Manhattan.
In a July 23rd letter obtained by Crain's New York Business, seven elected officials penned their concerns for the rising towers in residential areas to Carl Weisbrod, the head of city planning. While the Council would make any final approvals regarding re-zoning laws, the CPD could advance a plans to update a district or neighborhood.
"We write to voice our concern about the impacts of as-of-right super-tall buildings in the 57th Street corridor below Central Park and its environs," read the letter while requesting for the City Planning Departments' "assistance in mitigating the proliferation of these buildings."
Authors of the letter included Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — who provides an advisory opinion for all land proposals — along with City Council members Dan Garodnick, Corey Johnson and Mark Levine. Writers encouraged the CPD to consider some of the suggestions pushed by Community Board 5, including a long-term height cap and requirements of an in-depth study on how a building's shadow could impact local parks.
Both Garodnick and Johnson's districts encompass the district where the the majority of the buildings in questions rise — the seven super-tall, super-luxurious towers within a six-block radius just south of Central Park dubbed "Billionaires' Row." While the towers in question legally purchased air rights, many of their constituents oppose their height, arguing that they diminish sunlight and substantially lower foot traffic.
The towers have become so controversial that community groups have held press conferences and protests to plead with the city to spur action. In May, Community Board 5, which which spans the edge of Central Park near Columbus Circle all the way south to Union Square, attempted to impose a moratorium on towers over 600 feet. Though ultimately unsuccessful, the protest brought the support of several city council members. According to Councilman Mark Levin, who previously spoke with the New York Business Journal, the subject is an increasing concern for the City Council, as he predicted more action from his colleges in the near future.
Another perceived ally for community members in Councilman Ben Kallos, who held a public forum last week regarding the super-tall building structures. While Kallos represents a district spanning Sutton Place up to 100th Street and Roosevelt Island, he as voiced his concern for what could be described as the first "Billionaires' Row" suburb. A 90-story building located in Sutton Place is slated to rise 900 feet, outraging a community that believed it would be half as high.
Kallos is now pushing for a cap on buildings reaching over 500 feet in a residential area.