Ben Kallos


NYC Council votes to close mechanical void loophole

By Devin Gannon, Thu, May 30, 2019

Rendering of 50 West 66th Street; courtesy of Binyan Studios/ Snøhetta

The New York City Council on Wednesday voted to close a zoning loophole that has allowed developers to fill multiple floors of a tower with mechanical equipment without counting the floors as part of the building. The so-called mechanical void loophole enabled taller residential towers, and therefore higher, more expensive units, without actually creating more housing. The amendment approved by the Council will count mechanical voids taller than 25 feet as zoning floor area, as Crain’s reported.

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NYC affordable housing

Via Wikimedia

Real estate developers would be required to disclose prior relationships with politicians before signing any deals with the city under a new bill being introduced Wednesday by Council Member Ben Kallos. The legislation would also make developers reveal their ownership interests and their Minority Women Business Enterprise status. “Well-connected developers should not be getting sweetheart deals on the taxpayer’s dime,” Kallos said in an email.

About the bill

affordable housing, Policy

NYC affordable housing

Photo via Wikimedia

During its last full-body meeting of the year, the New York City Council passed a bill Tuesday that makes it easier for low-income renters to find apartments by creating a user-friendly online portal. Under the new legislation, landlords who receive tax breaks in exchange for renting below-market units will be required to register units each year with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the department would list these units online and match potential tenants by their income with apartments.

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Policy, Sutton Place 

3 Sutton Place, 428 East 58th Street, NYC condo buildings, Norman Foster, Foster + Partners

The original rendering of 3 Sutton Place by Foster + Partners

Gamma Real Estate will stop work on Sutton 58, a proposed 800-foot-tall residential tower at 3 Sutton Place, after the New York City Council voted on Thursday to rezone 10 blocks on the Upper East Side. According to The Real Deal, the rezoning requires properties between 51st and 59th Streets east of First Avenue to follow ‘tower-on-a-base” rules, meaning 45 to 50 percent of the building must be built below 150 feet. This drastically changes the developer’s plan for a soaring skyscraper and also caps the height of future buildings.

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City Living, Policy, Upper East Side

Photo via Nick Allen on Flickr

With its 8.5 million residents, honking taxis, constant construction and vibrant nightlife scene, New York City remains one of the noisiest places on Earth. Although quieter neighborhoods like the Upper East Side once offered a quiet reprieve from the city’s cacophony, these pockets of peace are getting harder to find as NYC’s population expands. As the New York Times reported, despite the fact that noise pollution has already been linked to harmful health effects like stress, hypertension and heart disease, about 420,000 noise complaints were filed citywide with the city’s 311 hotline in 2016, more than doubling the number of complaints made in 2011.

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City Living, maps, Policy

scaffolding, nyc scaffolding, the story behind scaffolding, the history of scaffolding, nyc construction, new your construction sites, post no bills

Sidewalk sheds, or scaffolding, are so pervasive in New York City they almost become part of a neighborhood’s landscape. While used to protect people from falling debris, scaffolding continues to be an omnipresent eyesore that blocks sunlight and views, attracts crime and slows foot traffic. Now, thanks to a new map by the city’s Department of Buildings, residents can explore more than 7,700 sidewalk sheds, each labeled with a color-coded dot highlighting the reason for its construction, its age, and its size. As the New York Times covered, there are currently 280 miles of sidewalk scaffolding in front of 7,752 buildings in the city (way up from the 190 miles we covered just a little over a year ago), which is enough to encircle Manhattan nearly nine times.

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City Living, Policy

scaffolding, nyc scaffolding, the story behind scaffolding, the history of scaffolding, nyc construction, new your construction sites, post no bills

Like an unwanted visitor, well-intentioned but present well after becoming a daily nuisance, New York City’s familiar green sidewalk scaffolding seems to contradict the laws of gravity: It goes up but never really seems to come down. Now, the New York Times reports, a new City Council bill would require that scaffolding be taken down after six months–sooner if no work is being done.

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