Friday, September 28, 2007

The road not taken: City Council limits high-rise buildings... on the Upper West Side

From a New York Times article Wednesday headlined Council Approves Plan to Limit High-Rises on Upper West Side:
The City Council unanimously passed a rezoning plan yesterday that limits the spread of high-rise buildings along 51 blocks on the Upper West Side, an area that officials say has undergone a significant increase in development.

The plan is intended to preserve the physical character of the community. It generally limits buildings to 14 stories along Broadway; 10 to 11 stories along the other avenues; and 6 to 7 stories on the side streets. Additionally, it imposes design restrictions so that new developments more closely match the neighborhoods around them.

Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, a Manhattan Democrat who represents the area, called the plan a “safeguard against aggressive overdevelopment that is running rampant throughout the city.”

...The plan was prompted by the construction of 37- and 31-story condominium towers along Broadway near 99th Street by the Extell Development Company, said Councilwoman Melinda R. Katz, a Queens Democrat and chairwoman of the Council’s Land Use Committee.

...Under the old zoning rules, there were no height restrictions and developers could buy unused air rights from buildings on surrounding streets. The new plan ends those transfers.


Versus Atlantic Yards

By contrast, for the Atlantic Yards project, the state will override zoning, to which City Planning Commission Chairwoman Amanda Burden concurs, explaining last February, "Tall buildings are aspirational... We’re a city that welcomes growth, we welcome innovation.”

Asked about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, she responded, “Of course they both were right, in certain degrees. Robert Moses got things done, and Jane Jacobs argued for diversity. She knew there was going to be serendipitous change in the city. What she encouraged was not just diversity but the public and the affected community to participate in the planning process to make that happen. And in fact, that is what we are doing now."

Just not in certain parts of Brooklyn.

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