The Upper West Side has proven to be one of the most difficult areas to build, with a growing amount of land area contained in historic districts and much of the remainder constrained by tight zoning regulations. Over the years, its protective residents have been involved in the city’s most memorable development battles: fighting tooth and nail to reduce the scale of the Riverside South master plan; lessen shadows caused by the redevelopment of the New York Coliseum site (Time Warner Center); and more recently spearheading the downzoning of a 51-block swath of Broadway due to grievances caused by Extell’s Ariel East and West towers.
For the most part, the defensive strategy has allowed the neighborhood to retain much of its pre-war charms and human-scaled side streets. However, along its southern edge, where the buildings around Lincoln Center scale upwards to Midtown, zoning allowances are more generous. Two as-of-right towers are sure to ruffle some preservationists’ feathers and are poised to be the neighborhood’s biggest yet.