Land Use

Land Use admin Sun, 10/04/2015 - 12:00pm

Closing Mechanical Voids Zoning Loopholes

Closing Mechanical Voids Zoning Loopholes admin Wed, 02/06/2019 - 4:30pm

Sky Exposure Plane Diagram Most of New York City is Already Protected from Mechanical Voids:


New York City has 10 different Residential Districts numbered 1 through 10. Any new construction on land zoned residential or commercial equivalent to Residential Districts 1 through 8 have height limits that prevent buildings from piercing the “sky exposure plane.” All “Historic Districts,” and some “Special Districts” include height protections often in the form of a strict height limit.



Abuse of Tower Regulations Using Loopholes:


249 East 62nd Street Vinoly 50 West 66th Street Snohetta Residential Districts 9 and 10 and their commercial equivalents allow a tower that covers a small portion of a lot and a tower-on-a-base where 55% of the floor area is below 150 feet which can limit height. However, 432 Park Avenue sought to become the tallest residential tower by using mechanical voids that account for 25% of its height. The same architect, Rafael Viñoly, proposed 249 East 62nd with a base of 12 stories and 150 feet of mechanical voids to support 11 stories above. 50 West 66th Street by Snøhetta proposed 161-feet of mechanical void to reach a height of 775 feet.


Voids Diagram

Proposed Solution to Discourage Mechanical Voids:

  • Discourage Tall Voids: Voids taller than 25 feet will count as zoning floor area.
  • Discourage Clustering to Pad Building Height: Voids within 75 feet of each other will count as zoning floor area.
  • Prevent Voids in Mixed-Use Residential Building: Non-residential mechanical space will be subject to the same 25-foot limit if non-residential uses occupy less than 25%.



Following his election in 2014, Council Member Ben Kallos held numerous public meetings on overdevelopment and invested more than $250,000 in member item funding into community-based non-profits like Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts (“Friends”). In June 2017, Kallos wrote to Department of City Planning (“DCP”) to close “loopholes” such as mechanical voids. In October 2017, Kallos and Friends met with DCP to share their research and proposal. In January 2018, Mayor de Blasio committed to closing the loopholes at a town hall hosted by Kallos in response to a question from Friends. In July 2018, Kallos joined Borough President Gale Brewer and LANDMARK WEST! to form a borough-wide coalition to call for the city to close the loopholes. On January 25, 2019, DCP wrote to Brewer and Kallos with a proposal to close mechanical voids in residential districts and a promise for a new proposal governing commercial districts in the summer certifying the residential application on January 28, 2019 to begin a public hearings process at Community Boards and Borough Boards concluding on March 8, 2019.


Add Your Name in Support at at

Stop Super-Scrapers

Stop Super-Scrapers

58 Sutton TowerThe proposed ultra-luxury 900-foot condo tower in Sutton Place, if built, would become the second-tallest building on the Upper East Side. This project is concerning because not only will it have implications for the future construction of super-skyscrapers on the Upper East Side, but because it is creating a future where only people who can afford it will have access to air and light.

If you agree, please sign this petition urging the developers of 426-432 East 58th Street to limit their construction to a height that respects the residents of neighboring buildings and the larger Upper East Side community.

You can learn more from the initial coverage by Daniel Fitzsimmons in Our Town or my Opinion Editorial.

Skyscraper That Would Soar Over Sutton Place Runs Into Neighborhood Opposition

By Charles V. Bagli

“This is about preserving our residential neighborhoods and the light and air for the people who live there,” Mr. Kallos said. “The community is finally fighting back against superscrapers.”


Sutton Strike: Gamma's Jonathan Kalikow on the War Over 3 Sutton Place

By Mack Burke and Cathy Cunningham

“Somebody in the neighborhood [said to me], ‘Did you know there is going to be a tower? Somebody wants to put up 1,000 feet here,’ ” Kallos told CO. “And I’m like, ‘You mean at 432 Park?’ They said, ‘No, [East] 58th Street and Sutton [Place].’ I said, ‘There’s no way. Is this an April Fool’s Day joke?’ ”



The Latest Fight to Build a Supertall on Sutton Place Heats Up

By Kathryn Brenzel

“You can literally walk anywhere in my district and see one construction site from another construction site,” said Kallos, who told TRD that he wanted to step in to prevent “another 432 Park Avenue” from towering over the city. “People in my district are getting development fatigue."



Push for Height Limits Extended Across Entire Upper East Side

By Joe Anuta

"We are getting ready to fight,” said City Councilman Ben Kallos, a critic of residential skyscrapers who supports the board’s proposal and is working to advance it from idea to reality. 



Many members of the community have joined the opposition to this proposed tower. You can read the Turtle Bay Association's resolution against the megatower, a statement from community member Alan Kersh presented at the CB6 Land Use Committee meeting, and a resolution from Community Board Six calling for further review and action.

Please join the fight:

admin Sun, 10/04/2015 - 12:00pm