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New Yorkers should have more say in ‘accidental skyline’ of NYC supertalls: report

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The Municipal Art Society’s latest report offers solutions to curtail NYC’s supertall boom

There are more than two dozen supertall towers either completed or in the works in New York City right now, with more to come in the next few years—and that’s not taking into account all of the tall buildings that don’t quite meet the 984-foot threshold.

And since 2013, the Municipal Art Society has been tracking the rise of those towers (including the skyscrapers of Billionaires’ Row and the Financial District) as part of its “Accidental Skyline” series, which looks at the impact, environmental and otherwise, that new skyscrapers have on the built environment.

MAS just released its 2017 report, and in addition to addressing its issues with recently-announced skyscrapers—including 200 Amsterdam Avenue, due to become the Upper West Side’s tallest building—it also outlines a 10-point plan [PDF!] for addressing what it calls the “unprecedented boom in as-of-right, out-of-scale development that flaunt the intention of our zoning code.”

In its plan, MAS highlighted three major areas that the city needs to rectify to control the rampant skyscraper development in the city.

First, to close loopholes that allow developers to skirt zoning rules and environmental regulations, like strengthening rules that control the bulk and height of a building or thoroughly studying the impacts of a particular development on a neighborhood.

Second, to give a bigger voice to residents in the neighborhoods where these projects are coming up. This includes more representation at the local level and more chances for residents to review land use applications.

Third, to hold the developers and the city accountable to the promises it made to the public while shepherding a particular land use application. A full list of these solutions is provided in MAS’s comprehensive report.

Along with the report, MAS has also released a host of interactive tools that give updated shadow predictions for these supertalls, provide maps that show where air rights are up for grabs, and particular corridors where views for local residents could be endangered because of these tall towers.

“Our report lays out a comprehensive package of ten reforms that will empower the City to level the playing field between private development and the public interest,” Elizabeth Goldstein, the president of MAS, said in a statement. “New York doesn’t have to settle for an ‘accidental skyline.’”