BILLIONAIRE BUILDINGS’ SHADOWS WILL CREEP DEEP INTO CENTRAL PARK

Several mega-luxury buildings are being constructed just South of Central Park and a new study by the Municipal Arts Society shows the shadows that those buildings will cast. In the winter, much of the southern section of the park is likely to be cast in shadows.

Check out the diagram below, which shows shadows that would be cast on Sept. 21. (click the image to enlarge)

Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 10.09.32 AM

Here’s what they’d look like on Dec. 21:

Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 10.19.05 AM

And below is the view of the towers from just North of Wollman Rink in the park.

Screen shot 2013-12-27 at 10.02.53 AM

Among the buildings are 111 West 57th street, which is slated to rise 1,350 feet, and 217/225 West 57th, which could be as high as 1,500 feet. Almost all of these buildings are built “as of right,” meaning that they do not need to go through public review. As the study notes:

“To be able to build these tall luxury towers, savvy developers have spent a great deal of time and money assembling zoning lots in order to take advantage of multiple sources of what are known as ‘air rights.’ Primarily through zoning lot mergers — private agreements between adjacent property owners — developers have accumulated enough additional air rights to build extraordinarily tall towers on relatively small sites as-of-right.”

Some of them still need building permits, however (see page 37 of the study). The Arts Society makes various recommendations in the report, including asking for public reviews of projects whose shadows will have dramatic effects on neighboring parks.

Apartments in the new buildings are already being sold, and they’re expected to appeal to billionaires from other countries looking for an investment or an occasional crash-pad. As the Times reported:

“Foreign buyers, including Brazilians, Chinese and Russians, have been on a buying spree in New York and Miami in recent months, developers and brokers say. Russian and Ukrainian buyers have shown a particular willingness to pay top dollar for so-called trophy properties.”

In fact, New York real estate is becoming a convenient asset with which to launder money.

That said, the buildings will add dramatic new Southern vistas for parkgoers (and the billionaires looking down on them from the 85th floor). Looking South from Sheep Meadow, for instance, the view will become much more dramatic. Take our poll to weigh in on whether you’re excited about the new developments.

Are you excited about the tall new buildings going up just South of Central Park?

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    1. NikFromNYC says:

      Please, just believe, that NYC is the human family.

    2. Scooter Stan says:

      As they say in France: “Plus ca change, plus la meme chose”

      A little history lesson, courtesy of Wikipedia:

      “Chicago initially led the way in skyscraper design, …square palazzo-styled buildings hosting shops and restaurants on the ground level and containing rentable offices on the upper floors.

      In contrast, New York’s skyscrapers were frequently narrower towers which, more eclectic in style, were often criticised for their lack of elegance.

      In 1892, Chicago banned the construction of new skyscrapers taller than 150 feet (46 m), leaving the development of taller buildings to New York.

      The first decade of the 20th century saw a new wave of skyscraper construction. …Chicago built new skyscrapers in its existing style, while New York experimented further with tower design.

      Iconic buildings such as the Flatiron were followed by the 612-foot (187 m) tall Singer Tower, the 700-foot (210 m) Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower and the 792-foot (241 m) Woolworth Building.

      Though these skyscrapers were commercial successes, criticism mounted as they broke up the ordered city skyline and plunged neighboring streets and buildings into perpetual shadow. Combined with an economic downturn, this led to the introduction of zoning restraints in New York in 1916.

      New York City’s 1916 Zoning Resolution helped shape the Art Deco or “set-back” style of skyscraper, leading to structures that focused on volume and striking silhouettes, often richly decorated.

      Skyscraper heights continued to grow, with the Chrysler and the Empire State Building each claiming new records, reaching 1,046 feet (319 m) and 1,250 feet (380 m) respectively. …

      Popular and academic culture embraced the skyscraper through films, photography, literature and ballet, seeing the buildings as either positive symbols of modernity and science, or alternatively examples of the ills of modern life and society. ”

      As a city, we once were proud of our Woolworth Building (tallest in the world when built) and, of course, our Empire State Building.

      But now, perhaps we should adopt these lyrics from Oklahoma’s “Everything’s Up To Date in Kansas City”

      “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City / They gone about as fer as they can go / They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high / About as high as a buildin’ orta grow.”

      • Sara Gootblatt says:

        Nice piece Stan! However, Although I think an historical perspective is important, 21st-century people might see differently. From what I recall, the shadows cast by the Time Warner building were greatly criticized, and the architect were forced to change the design. Somehow this concern flew out the window when permission was given for the new skyscrapers.

    3. denton says:

      I’m trying to get my mind around this shadow thing… In the winter, shadows are bad. We like to sit in the sun. In the summer tho, isn’t the opposite true? We like shade, so more shadows are good? Explain why this is wrong.

      However hard to believe this will end well. All these towers, all fighting for the same slice of billionaires. Are there really that many of them? This seems like a contrarian indicator. Every time there’s a boom like this, you know what happens… an even bigger bust.

      • jerry says:

        Regarding shade – Central Park is full of attractive trees that offer plenty of natural shade.
        And concerning the overbuilding of certain parts of our city, Denton, I’m with you.

      • Laurie Blair says:

        Changing the sunlight in Central Park will impact what grows there. Plants and trees thrive when the environment provides the optimal amount of sunlight for their particular species. The trees that today provide shade in summer but allow sunlight in winter are deciduous and lose their leaves every fall. Many of the existing trees that are thriving today are likely to become weakened or die if they lose the sunlight they receive today. There will be impacts to other plant life in the park as well when their access to sunlight changes as well. The buildings may have a significant impact on wind as well. My understanding is that cold winds in winter tend to come from the northwest. Will the blocking of the winds by these buildings in the winter have a impact on the park and the UWS? Will “dramatic new vistas” of the southend of the park be worth it? Somehow I doubt it.

      • Christina says:

        @ Denton-The position of the sun is different in the winter than the summer. So the diagram is showing the date of the shortest day of year when sun is closer to horizon which will create long shadows. That’s why shadows will be abundant in winter when we really don’t want them. Either way it’s a shame we’ll have them at all in my opinion.

    4. Sally Sacks says:

      And yet another “improvement” to New York City — equally as bad as the sad destruction, years ago, of all those great old mansions and other beautiful, historical buildings. When will we ever learn…?

    5. Olly Garch says:

      We Russian oligharcs need a place to protect our pilfered money. Just like your crony capitalists like Mr. Al Gore and Terry McCauliff, I’ve become enriched by funneling money to Putin (your Obama), and in return he has rewarded me with tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. You should thank me for the shade, you little sheeple.

    6. Irving Polsky says:

      It is shameful that Amanda Burden’s planners at CPC
      did not foresee these Central Park intrusions and provide for an exclusionary zone as was done from
      Fifth Avenue eastward to Park Avene plus. I recall 108 East 96th Street having its water tower removed.
      Irving Polsky, P.E.

    7. John says:

      In addition to the loss of light, what about the impact of these beasts o. W 57th itself. The street is already very congested with frequent gridlock and bad air. I can’t imagine the extra headaches with these buildings, the Nordstorms, and new hotel loading zones. Terrible.

    8. Barbara Michalak says:

      Clearly we need to revisit the air rights swapping options. And hard to believe the city government doesn’t have some overarching authority to intervene at any point in the planning process and rein in the real estate developers. I am very negatively concerned (excited?) over these intrusive additions to the skyline. So is that a Yes or a No? So I didn’t vote.

    9. Upper West Hazel says:

      I am very negatively concerned (? excited ?) about these mega intrusions into the air/sky cityscape. Clearly the air rights swap system needs rethinking.

    10. Ralph Shapiro says:

      Outrageous. Do these developers have any sense of morality? Beyond the shadows, does the city have the capacity to handle the increased city dwelling population. Already mass transit (subways and buses)are overcrowded.
      What is it that motivates these already extraordinarly wealthy developers to worship the almighty dollar?

      • WestSideAddie says:

        The buildings will be empty other than the building employees and the cleaning crews. No one will live in these buildings; they are for billionaire foreigners who show up maybe once a year. I guess the good part is these folks will have to pay real estate taxes (assuming they were not granted an abatement)and they will certainly not put any pressure on public transportation (as they don’t use it). The bad part is that that the area will remain an after hours ghost town and not bring in new restaurants and commerce…a lot like the buildings along the West Side Drive.