NYC zoning law permits work on contentious tower
UPDATE: July 5, 2018: The New York City Board of Standards and Appeals has granted Gamma Real Estate a zoning exception and allowed construction to resume on its Sutton Place tower project, according to Curbed New York.
However, in a statement issued by the East River Fifties Alliance, a group that many consider the driving force behind the rezoning of the neighborhood surrounding Sutton Place, the matter will soon be one for the courts.
The alliance, which has vowed to pursue legal remedies in order to stop construction, called Sutton Place a "monstrous, out-of-place mega-tower," and added that the board failed to investigate the legitimacy of the processes and permits by which Gamma rushed the foundation work at the heart of its rezoning request. "The board," the alliance said, "committed multiple errors of law based on a misapprehension of what the zoning resolution provides."
- A New York City developer says it will file for an exemption from a new zoning amendment that would kill the company's plans to build a nearly 799-foot residential tower along the East River in Manhattan, according to Bloomberg.
- The new regulation requires buildings like Gamma Real Estate's 67-story Sutton 58 project to keep as much as half of its total square footage below 150 feet. According to Real Estate Weekly, this would limit the Gamma project to a height of 260 feet. On the day the New York City Council passed the measure, Gamma was 10 days away from completing the building's foundation, a milestone that would have grandfathered the Sutton 58 project in at its current planned height.
- Gamma, which previously reduced the height of Sutton 58 from 900 feet, was forced to halt construction on the project 15 minutes after the zoning amendment passed. Company officials said it had no plans to change the height or the design and instead, will make an appeal to the New York City Board of Standards.
The East River 50s Alliance filed the zoning amendment proposal with the Department of City Planning in April to stem the tide of commercial development and tall buildings in the area. In its proposal, the Alliance made an exception to the height requirement for what it considered community-use properties like daycare centers or healthcare facilities.
Skyscrapers can often incorporate state-of-the-art technology such as super-fast elevators, distributed antenna systems and anti-sway measures, making many of them monuments to innovation. But not everyone is content to live within proximity to such structures. Though high-rise construction can produce a number of construction jobs and boost the local economy, others say skyscrapers — especially luxury real estate towers — can spark gentrification and trigger other negative outcomes.
Activists in Los Angeles tried to curb high-density, high-rise development in the city earlier this year with the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, but the measure failed to win voter support. Though the bill didn't pass muster among voters, some of its proposed provisions are now being implemented. Developers in Los Angeles must now use a list of pre-approved vendors to help them write their projects' environmental reviews. LA City Council officials, too, must revisit community plans every six years.
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