New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

CBS New York NYC Council Looks To Close Loophole Allowing Buildings To Be Extra Tall For Little Reason by Andrea Grymes

NYC Council Looks To Close Loophole Allowing Buildings To Be Extra Tall For Little Reason

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It’s the tallest residential building in the western hemisphere – the luxurious 432 Park rises more than 1,300 feet into the Manhattan skyline.

City councilman Ben Kallos says architect Rafael Vinoly got a quarter of this super-tall height by exploiting what’s known as the “mechanical voids loophole” and it was totally legal.

The overly tall residential building at 432 Park. (Credit: CBS2)

“They’re building these mechanical voids to prop up real estate so these billionaires can have multi-million dollar helicopter views, and that’s not why we should be building buildings,” Kallos said.

The councilman added the firm is trying to do the same thing with an empty lot on East 62nd Street – to offer better and more expensive views – and they’re not alone.

A “mechanical floor” is space used to store equipment like air conditioning and heating units, but critics say some developers are making that space unnecessarily large.

The construction loophole New York’s city council says is being exploited to make extra tall buildings. (Credit: CBS2)

They’re allegedly leaving it mostly empty just to make the building taller than would typically be allowed.

In parts of the city like the Upper East Side, mechanical space does not count toward zoned flooring. On Tuesday, the city council zoning committee considered a proposal to change that.

The Department of City Planning recommends counting any “mechanical voids” towards zoning if they’re taller than 30 feet.

Engineer Ed Boscoe represents 300 firms with the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York. Boscoe said 30 feet will work – for some construction.

“Some buildings can be built shorter, some can be taller, but the complexity of buildings and the variety of buildings doesn’t give you a single solution for everything,” Boscoe explained.

A spokesperson for Rafael Vinoly had no comment on the oversized buildings issue. The city council is expected to vote on this by the end of the month.

 

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