The New York Times has an interesting piece explaining that 40 percent of the structures in Manhattan couldn’t be built today due to modern limits on building heights. One of its claims is that “A New New York Would Be Shorter.” As Exhibit A, it offers a graphic showing older buildings that exceed current rules for building heights.
The point of the exercise is push the idea that the massive construction of skyscrapers in and around our residential neighborhoods is probably not to be feared. After all, there are rules in place.
Note that nothing on and around Sutton Place would exceed today’s limits on building heights. Why is that? Are there stricter rules there?
No, there are no rules at all. So there are no rules to break.
The New York Times’s graphic is beautiful to look at and seems like an authoritative source. Rather, it belongs in classrooms across America on the dangers of pasting data on a chart without context.
Let us repeat:
There are no zoning heights limits at all for Sutton Place and environs
That’s why local residents are fighting off plans to bury the neighborhood in megatowers. The East River 50s Alliance has put together a rezoning plan for the neighborhood that does that following things:
*Allows for sensible construction of reasonably tall buildings on wide avenues.
*Protects narrow E. 58th Street, east of First Avenue, from the construction of a nearly 1,000-foot-high tower.
*Provides for the building and preservation of more affordable housing — in the neighborhood!– than that required in Mayor de Blasio’s initiative.
This East Side’s architecture critic, David Brussat, has written extensively on the super-tall building phenomenon, with special emphasis on the controversial proposal for Sutton Place.
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