Welcome to save central park nyc
The mission of Save Central Park NYC is to mobilize the public to share their concern with elected officials about the impact of the proliferation of Megatowers on all sides (south, north, east and west) of Central Park. We need to halt the frenzied pace of new construction around the park pending adoption of zoning modifications and/or legislation that will benefit the city for generations to come.
This battle to save our parks and neighborhoods from overdevelopment must be fought at both the State and City levels.
Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (A5026A) and Senator Robert Jackson (S3820A) have sponsored critical legislation that will positively impact development statewide by closing the most egregious loopholes including exorbitant mechanical voids, floor-to-ceiling heights and unenclosed outdoor spaces/stilts.
We thank them for their leadership in Albany on facing down out of control real estate developers in our cities. To make this bill a reality, it will take advocacy and constituent support from people like you!!
On August 16th, 2018, The Manhattan Borough President, the Speaker of City Council and ALL City Council Members representing Manhattan districts wrote a joint letter to Marisa Lago, the Chair of the City Planning Commission. They asked that the “loopholes” that developers are using to circumvent the zoning laws be urgently addressed. They specifically pointed to excessive void spaces, mechanical spaces and floor-to-floor heights that do not count as part of the floor area formulas. They also addressed the need of a definition of the term “zoning lot” once easily understood.
Our elected officials rightly pointed to the intent of the zoning laws, "to provide consistency and predictability for both developers and residents.”
Community Board 7 has passed a Resolution ( see page 2 of document): Amending the Zoning Regulations to address oversight of tall buildings.
The Resolution addresses that two supertall buildings, now under construction, are out of context with their neighborhoods and cast large shadows on the streets and in Central Park. These West Side buildings evade existing zoning regulations by utilizing creative loopholes including:
· Incorporating large “voids”
· “Mechanical Spaces” that far exceed their function
· Ceiling heights that are double the standard
· Gerrymandering open spaces to amass larger than imagined zoning lots
· Added height/development rights for affordable housing that is transferred over long distances.
Who are our allies?
In addition to Assembly Member Rosenthal and State Senator Jackson, numerous advocacy groups, journalists, and elected officials have been fighting on behalf of Central Park in recent years.
Mayoral appointees like the City Planning Commissioner and the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) are an integral part of land use outcomes.
In July of 2015, a pro-active group of legislators wrote a joint letter to the former City Planning Commissioner, Carl Weisbrod, an appointee of the Mayor. The Commissioner dismissed their urgent request! Click here to read the letter and response.
As voters, we should ask: should an appointee be able to dismiss the serious concerns of our elected officials so readily?
Now, we have a new appointed Chair of City Planning, and our legislators are again demanding action. As voters, we must demand the same!
City Council Member Helen Rosenthal stated that a 775’ foot building on West 66th Street is unacceptable. Her office demanded transparency of the developer after it was apparent that the plans filed with the DOB for a 25 story building were never intended. She said in a press release, "I will fight Extell's current plans with every tool at my disposal, and will push for a design that is more in line with the built environment of the Upper West Side. At 775 feet, this building is far too tall for the context of our neighborhood, overshadowing nearby buildings and Central Park.”
She called it a classic “bait-n-switch,” and is questioning whether the plans even adhere to the city’s zoning code.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Helen Rosenthal wrote a letter to Extell back in June of 2017 demanding that they be open and honest with the community and their offices. There is indeed something wrong with the process wherein a request for honesty is required.
City Council Member Ben Kallos presented the fifth Annual Overdevelopment Forum (6/14/2018) and was joined by the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in recognition of the “unintended consequences,” that result when the underlying zoning no longer provides, “predictability and reliablilty,” for those in a neighborhood.
Community Board 7 has taken a leading role in passing numerous resolutions to address non-contextual development and circumvention of the zoning code. (See Resources for details.)
Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side is supporting a 400 ’ height cap to combat the frenetic overdevelopment.
As New Yorkers, we need to support these elected officials and Community Groups in this fight.
The Mayor and the Department of City Planning have repeatedly been asked about the loopholes that are allowing developers to circumvent the intent of the existing zoning laws. Do to perseverance of Manhattan Borough President Brewer, The Manhattan Delegation of the City Council and community members, a Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment (phase 1) addressing mechanical voids in residential buildings passed in spring 2019.
Advocacy groups all over NYC have made a multitude of appeals to elected officials in an attempt to impact zoning regulations. Our antiquated zoning laws were conceived well before the technological advancements that allow for the construction of SuperTalls, nor did planners envision the developers' ability to bypass the intent of the zoning laws as they assembled air rights. This abuse is vividly illustrated by the map of assembled air rights for The 200 Amsterdam project as shown here:
...And Now, the Tallest Tower on the Upper West Side
50 West 66th Street, just steps off Central Park, will now be home to the 775 foot tower which will eclipse the Time Warner Center. This Superscraper is out of context with the residential neighborhood and will cast an enormous new shadow on Central Park.
Landmark West! is the non-profit focused on preserving the character of the various neighborhoods on the Upper West Side (West 59th to West 110th Steets) and along with The City Club have challenged the legality of the plans for 50 West 66th Street as the developer has used loopholes that are contrary to the letter and intent of the zoning resolution. (Read more about Landmark West!'s efforts here.)
See for yourself what is happening to Central Park.
This 45 second video is an eye-opener! Watch here.
(Video by Chris Giordano, President of the 64-67th Streets Block Association. 3-D Image by George Janes AICP-Urban Planning Consultant)
Supertalls will continue to be built as long as our mayor and legislators allow "as of right" development.
Demand action of our Mayor and City Planning as they consider the future of New York City. Ask your City Council to stay engaged and to keep the pressure on. The very livability of the City is at stake for us and for future generations. Our neighborhoods and our parks are in jeopardy as more shadows are cast.
Visit our Take Action page to connect with your elected officials. The time is now! We need you to get behind this effort to make it a reality.
Photo by Binyan Studios.
To learn more, read West Side Rag: New Project Set to Become Upper West Side’s Tallest Building.
Or, for up to the minute news, follow the blogs from Landmark West!:
ABC WATCH - News and info on ABC's UWS Campus sale and development
CENTRAL dARK Tower - News and info about Extell at 50 W 66
visit our gallery
As superscrapers dominate the skyline, will Central Park get any sun?
Click here to visit our photo gallery.
Accidental Skyline by The Municipal Art Society of New York
Too often, New Yorkers are caught off guard by new development in their neighborhoods. The Accidental Skyline offers tools to help demystify the city planning process and bring the public into the conversation. Read more.
demand action from your elected officials
It is time to get organized and to demand action from our elected officials.
Demand that zoning laws be modified to prevent additional shadows from being cast into the park; thus protecting our rights to air and light. The zoning laws currently in effect have not been significantly updated in over 50 years!
See the Take Action page for a sample letter that can be used when writing elected officials or candidates.
The East River Fifties Alliance, a community based advocacy group, is fighting for a rezoning plan which will protect their neighborhood and quality of life in light of a pending SuperTall. Read more here.
Friends of the Upper East Side asked noted Zoning Expert George Janes to review NYC zoning to determine why this is happening now and what can be done about it. His study laid the ground work for Community Board 7’s sweeping Resolution. Read more here.
So What Happens Now?
Contact your elected officials (click below). The Manhattan Borough President and the Manhattan City Council in their request that City Planning follow the letter and intent of the Zoning Resolution AND that they close the loopholes that have allowed the towers to go to unlimited heights!