Monthly Archives: January 2017


De Blasio’s Bait-and-Switch Zoning

 

New York Midtown Skyline in 1932

Midtown East skyline, 1932

 

Mayor Bill de Blasio has chosen a mighty strange way of celebrating the 100th anniversary of zoning in New York City. His zoning plan, approved in March, calls for more affordable housing for low-income families, but more housing affordable to the wealthy will be its main achievement.

 

A century ago last year New York City passed what is widely believed to be the first zoning ordinance in the country. At a time when skyscrapers were coming into vogue, the 1916 regulation set no height limit but sought to prevent structures such as the new 40-story Equitable Life Insurance Building from blotting out the sky. A formula used the width of streets to calculate required setbacks permitting sunlight to filter down to the ground. The setbacks ended up popularizing the wedding-cake style of Manhattan architecture for decades, but was originally intended entirely to make life more bearable for people on sidewalks.

 

De Blasio’s zoning changes make the 1916 law and its formulas look as if they could fit on a postcard. The changes bring mandatory inclusionary housing to a new level. First, they are mandatory. The reward for developers in city subsidies and zoning exemptions is negotiated in light of the number of affordable units. And deals are configured differently for different parts of town. Finally, local members of council get to tweak agreements for development projects in their districts.

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Fight Still On Against Sutton Place MegaBlight

The ludicrous supertower proposed for Sutton Place

It’s not over.  There’s still time to prevent the construction of a 90-plus story(!) megatower in the middle of East 58th Street just off Sutton Place. But the alarms were sounding last Thursday at a meeting of the East River 50s Alliance.

To quote ERFA President Alan Kersh, “We find ourselves perilously perched.”

Here’s the craziness. The 50s east of First Avenue is the only residential neighborhood in the city that has no – no as in zero – height limits on buildings.  That includes narrow, leafy little side streets such as the one targeted for a megatower.

The alliance has presented the city with a very extensive and reasonable plan for rezoning. It awaits certification by the City Planning Commission.

After certification, the proposal would go through a formal process including nonbinding reviews by the community board and borough president and binding reviews by the City Planning Commission and City Council.

So WHY isn’t it getting certification?

We at SilkStocking are not alone in believing that Mayor de Blasio sees well-to-do parts of Manhattan as an easy sacrifice to his developer friends.  The city’s enclaves are valuable to developers because they are nice — and they are nice precisely because their people have preserved them with love.

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Three other things to do on inauguration day

One.  SLEEP THROUGH IT AT AMERICAN KENNELS 

Puppies sleep through Trump inauguration

Not feeling a thing at American Kennels on Lexington at E. 62nd

 

 

 

 

Two.  CHILL OUT AT BIRCH COFFEE. (WIFI-FREE BEFORE 5 P.M.)

 

Birch Coffee is WiFi-free coffee chain

No Wifi at Birch Coffee. 62nd, just east of Lex

 

 

 

Three.  GO TO THE 63RD(!) WINTER ANTIQUES SHOW AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY.  JUST OPENED TODAY.

 

Winter Antiques Show just opened at Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory at Park and E. 66th.

 

 

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