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Opposition Mounts Against Bill That Could Allow for More Tall Towers

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NYC legislators are now coming out against the De Blasio-backed bill

New York City is no stranger to development—the metropolis is synonymous with its skyline, after all—but in the last decade the city has undergone a dramatic transformation that has seen the breakneck construction of towering glass skyscrapers and the destruction of smaller buildings many hold dear. And a new legislative package from Albany has the potential to further development, and the rise of those huge skyscrapers, across large swaths of New York City.

According to New York Magazine, developers are required to build in accordance to a floor-area ratio that more or less allows 60,000 square feet of space on a 5,000 square foot lot, approximately 20 to 25 stories. But the passage of Senate Bill S5469 could effectively double the allotted height and space. Mayor de Blasio has openly supported the growth of New York's housing market (in part through cooperation with huge real estate developers), and his administration is framing this bill as a way to increase affordable housing throughout the five boroughs.

As recently as last week, the bill seemed to be on its way to passing, but New York reports that opposition is mounting among state senators hailing from New York City, as well as from nongovernmental organizations like the Municipal Arts Society. Like many of the goings-on of the state capitol, the preliminary discussions, planning, and proposed passing of the legislative bundle were conducted in secrecy, which has left opponents frustrated. "This seems to be the M.O. these days, where people don’t talk about things, they just push them through," MAS president Gina Pollara told New York.

On the one hand, every neighborhood is still subject to New York City's existing zoning code, which according to New York means "skyscraper buildings will not suddenly start springing up on Pineapple or Cranberry Streets in Brooklyn Heights." But on the other, the question remains: Should the politics of Albany have such this much impact on the built environment of New York City?