Despite recent progress–and a federal lawsuit–only 23 percent of New York City’s 493 subway and Staten Island Railway (SIR) stations are fully ADA-accessible, a statistic which puts the city dead last among the country’s 10 largest metro systems for accessibility of its transit stations. The MTA has made a commitment to funding accessibility in its much-discussed Capital Plan, but hundreds of stations are still without without plans for ADA access. On Friday Speaker Corey Johnson and the City Council released a report showing that the use of zoning tools to incentivize or require private development projects to address subway station access could speed up progress toward the goal of system-wide ADA access–and simultaneously cut public expense. The report, and an interactive map, show the current system, future plans and what the use of zoning tools could accomplish.
The Department of City Planning launched a new data tool on Tuesday that displays the status of all zoning and land use applications dating back to 1970. The Zoning Application Portal, or ZAP, provides the public an easy way to search through 28,000 projects and pending applications, 500 of which are currently in public review. “This online tool is the ultimate in planning and zoning transparency,” Marisa Lago, director of DCP, said. “It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s intuitive. We hope that New Yorkers – residents, advocacy groups, property and business owners – take full advantage, and get more involved in planning for our city’s future.”
Michael Hiller is a zoning and land-use attorney who has represented community groups in seemingly impossible quests for about 20 years. His high-profile cases have often been against the Landmarks Preservation Commission, notably Tribeca’s iconic Clock Tower Building and new construction along historic Gansevoort Street, both of which are pending appeal by the defendants.
As one legal observer commented, “He has become an expert in the nuances of the Landmarks Law from a legal perspective. In court, he is very talented on his feet before a very hot bench, before judges who ask a lot of tough questions.” His successes have won him designation as a Super Lawyer every year since 2009 as well as the 2017 Grassroots Award from the Historic Districts Council. 6sqft recently visited Michael at his office to learn more about his work.
720 Park Avenue could not be built today. Image via Google Maps
Many feel that the city’s current construction boom is unprecedented, but while towers may be reaching new heights, according to a new report by architecture firm KPF, nearly three-quarters of the city’s existing square footage was actually built between the 1900s and 1930s. More interestingly, The Times points out that forty percent of the buildings that currently make up Manhattan could not be built today because they break at least one zoning code violation—among which include being too tall, having too many residential units, or having too much commercial space.