City shows support for supertall Midtown towers

Rendering of Midtown Manhattan skyline in 2030 (credit: VisualHouse) (inset: Carl Weisbrod)

The de Blasio administration expressed its support for the slew of supertall skyscrapers rising in Midtown Manhattan, responding to elected officials who have criticized the developments and called for measures like height limits and a moratorium on new towers.

The city has “no immediate plans to reduce the as-of-right density or bulk requirements” for such supertall developments, Carl Weisbrod, the director of the Department of City Planning, wrote in an August 12 letter.

Buildings exceeding or planning to exceed 1,000 feet in height — like Extell Development’s One57 condo and hotel tower and JDS Development and Property Markets Group’s 111 West 57th Street — have alarmed groups like the Municipal Art Society and Community Board 5’s Central Park Sunshine Task Force.

Concerns have even prompted a City Council bill that would create a task force to address shadows caused by the developments that are creeping deeper in Central Park, according to Crain’s.

While acknowledging concerns about the shadows and noting his department would continue to monitor the effects of supertall buildings, Weisbrod pointed to “the important role Midtown Manhattan plays in the city’s economy.”

He noted that the towers comply with laws governing density, with such developments distributing their square footage vertically instead of over the block – a move that can actually help preserve older buildings and lead to “a more interesting streetscape and pedestrian experience.” [Crains] – Rey Mashayekh