City seeks to revoke access to office rooftops made for employee mingling

Posted On Wed, July 5, 2017 By

Posted On Wed, July 5, 2017 By In Design, Policy

Rendering of L&L Holding Company’s planned rooftop terrace at 390 Madison Avenue

Update 7/31/17: The Post reports that the DOB recently sent landlords a draft memo clarifying that, aside from minor details, terraces are allowed “as open passive recreation space.” 

To give workers a comfortable and conducive work space, some companies have outfitted their offices with amenities like on-site fitness centers, free coffee and outdoor space. However, the city’s Department of Buildings has launched a campaign to stop or delay these rooftop terraces on office towers, claiming the spaces can only be used for plants, not people. As the New York Post reported, DOB may not approve office terrace plans and may even rescind already approved plans.

The department is citing a zoning law from 1961 that was meant to stop a large increase of outdoor flea markets from popping up and which states that “all uses must be contained within enclosed buildings.” DOB’s new interpretation of the law stopped or delayed many major projects. First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello is leading the department’s campaign to challenge whether or not a roof can support a certain weight. Michael Slattery of the Real Estate Board of New York, a group that represents real estate professionals, has urged the Department of City Planning to “convince the DOB that what we’re asking is well within the scope of what zoning allows.”

When asked for a comment, the DOB and DCP told the Post: “We are aware of the questions that have been raised regarding roof terraces and we are working together to arrive at a solution that supports both safety and clarity.”

Terraces that are either currently under construction or planned include L&L Holding Co.’s 390 Madison Avenue and 425 Park Avenue; Related Companies’ 55 Hudson Yards; Silverstein Properties’ 3 World Trade Center; and SL Green’s Midtown supertall One Vanderbilt.

[Via NY Post]


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  • Garo Gumusyan

    Kudos to the Building Department. Zoning and Building Code regulations are very clear. An outdoor space to be occupied as an “Office Accessory Use: Terrace” has to comply with the Zoning/FAR Calculations along with Structural Load Calculations. There are plenty of Building Owners who have followed these rules and gone through the time and expense to provide their tenants with this amenity. Why reward those Building Owners that try to circumvent the process? Great job
    Building Department! Enforce the Law!

  • Doyle

    so change the law. developers pay off the DOB all the time in order to get what they want. does this law also go for residential rooftops?



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