Crain's New York Push for Height Limits Extended Across Entire Upper East Side by Joe Anuta
Manhattan Community Board 8 is seeking to cap new buildings’ height at 210 feet, or roughly 20 stories, across the entire Upper East Side, an effort that is part of a recent wave of community backlash against high-rise apartment towers.
The community board is set to hold a hearing this week about a request that building heights be capped along First, Second, Third and York avenues, bringing them in line with other neighborhood thoroughfares including Park and Fifth avenues.
The board’s move is still preliminary: Someone still has to plunk down the cash to hire zoning experts who would draw up an actual application, a process that can take a year or more. If and when an application is complete, it would then have to undergo a seven-month public review process. Any projects that complete their foundation in the meantime would not be subject to the proposed zoning changes.
“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. He has reason to be hopeful.
The City Planning Commission held a hearing last week on another proposal in Kallos’ district that would limit heights in Sutton Place. In that case, the proposal was initiated to try to stop a single tower that was projected to rise 800 feet along East 58th Street. Although it is unclear how successful that effort will be, it was a seen as a positive sign for activists looking to stymie similar large-scale projects in other parts of the city.