An image from a study of shadows cast by proposed buildings South of Central Park by the Municipal Arts Society.

Despite calls by local leaders for a moratorium on the mega-towers near Central Park, the de Blasio administration says they have no plans to change the rules for those kinds of developments.

“Given the important role midtown Manhattan plays in the city’s economy, we have no immediate plans to reduce the current as-of-right density or bulk requirements,” wrote Carl Weisbrod, director of the Department of City Planning, in a letter obtained by Crain’s.

Community Board 7 had voted 35-1 to ask the city to impose a moratorium on the towers, in part because they cast long shadows on Central Park. The moratorium would have applied to developments over 600 feet or 60 stories for buildings within 1000 feet of Central Park.

Weisbrod wrote that the developments, like the 1,775-foot-tall Nordstrom tower planned for West 57th street, actually keep overall heights down because they use up all the allowable density on the block, so other buildings can’t go higher.

As for the shadows, he wrote that the slim tall buildings “cast a shadow deeper into the park in certain periods of the year, but for a very short time, as opposed to a wall of somewhat less tall buildings, like the wall of apartment-hotel buildings along Central Park South, that cover a segment of the southern portion of the park for much of the day throughout the year.”

Read the full letter below:

Department of City Planning response supertall buildings

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 43 comments | permalink
    1. jezbel says:

      I believe it’s a travesty… Central Park South will be in shadow for almost the entire day. It’s all ready dark there from the structure on the street. But the worst part by far will be the effect on Central Park where the plants and the lawn require sunlight. Not to mention the human beings who also require sunlight and the Vitamin D it provides to help combat the long dark winters. This is just sad. And while I’ve tried hard to find something to like about this mayor, he has quickly lost my support.

      • Iiari says:

        I’m sorry, but this is NYC. The shadow concerns are literally a century-plus old (thus the tapering tops of classic NY towers) and are of just as little impact now (if less, considering the slenderness of these new towers) as they were at the turn of the 20th century.

        Bring on the super-talls. Do it responsibly, promote street level activity, demand high quality architecture. But definitely bring them on and bring on a new, long-overdue age of new skyscraper construction for NYC…

      • Chris says:

        Much ado about nothing. It wouldn’t be NYC without a bunch of people complaining about any change to anything.

      • UWS Grumpster says:

        I almost laughed out loud at this. Are we really now to worry about the plants and the Vitamin D deprived? THAT’S why we should be outraged by this? Oh UWSers never fail to amuse with their outrage.

    2. Karen Miller says:

      Agreed with Jezbel! And these thin towers that cast such ephemeral shadows? In a generation or less their neighboring lots will be filled with penci megatowers and the effect WILL be a solid, permanent wall of shadow on our glorious Central Park. Shame on the mayor and greedy devlopers! Those megatowers aren’t even generating proportionate taxes to the city, owned as the units are by extranationals. Fix thee tax laws first, then promote development where we need it – in up and coming areas or those in need of economic boost!

    3. PGG says:

      I’m quite sure you’ll get your vitamin D from a magnificent multitude of other streets in Manhattan, or right there in Central Park. Take your pick….Sheep’s Meadow, Great Lawn, the zoo, shall I keep going? How about Riverside Park, Carl Schurz Park, wow, you’re really worried about your vitamin D!

      • D.R. says:

        I pop a supplement daily and get my Vitamin D.

        But how about sunlight? Should we live in shadows? Should our windows, both home and at the office, be blocked by buildings? Depressing. In fact, scientists have studies on the negatives of light deprivation.

        How about the sun-dependent trees and all the green and flowering stuff supplementing our oxygen? Should their benefits be reserved just for spring and summer weekends when weather permits and we have no weddings to attend?

        And with the little sunlight that will remain, will there be enough room for us all to crowd into the parks?

        Both sun and trees are essential for a health and a sense of wellbeing as we carry on, wherever we are, 365 days a year.

        • Nathan says:

          Then it’s actually better to build tall, dense buildings in order to preserve more open space outside the city. High density is what makes New York so environmentally friendly comported to hellholes like Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.

    4. Joe says:

      Score another one for Extell’s Gary Barnett and his fellow real estate greedmeisters!

      I know there are some who defend the fine design of these obscene needle towers that are destroying the character and skyline of this city, not to mention the comfort and safety of just ordinary citizens (non-oligarchs) on the ground.

      Yeah… every day that I go out and see the Barnett’s hideous and totally inappropriate Ariel East and West buildings on B’way between 99th-100th, I’m reminded about “fine design” that fits in with the neighborhood. (I posted extensive comments on WSR about these buildings and their duplicitous development earlier this Summer, so I won’t repeat them again.)

      As for our “liberal/progressive” mayor, is this any surprise? Just one more bit of proof that he is “owned” by real estate. These buildings, his now-moribund battle against horse carriages (financed by builders who wanted the stable properties for new buildings), etc.

      Can you imagine what would happen if the desnudas and their pimps had made major campaign contributions to de Blasio?

      • Richard says:

        This 100%. It’s about the character and skyline aesthetics more than the shadow argument (which is mostly nonsense, but the avenue opponents thought they could exploit to stop the development if they found a judge dumb enough – 50/50 shot).
        I am generally pro-development when it is done responsibly, but these sliver buildings are hideous and so out of character with the neighborhood and skyline. Look at the tower rising on Park Ave and 56th street, OMG how was this allowed?
        I’m not totally blaming DeB for this mess, that train left the station a long time ago. All politicians are beholden to the real estate industry, they donate to both sides very generously. There needs to be some impartial board that can balance the need for development with neighborhood character and the impact on the skyline.

        • Nathan says:

          Wait, so you’re saying that super tall buildings in midtown are out of character? In NYC? Seriously?

          If anything we should be constructing more of these in order to take back the title of most impressive skyline. I mean, Chicago has a better skyline at this point. Chicago! WTF!

          • BMAC says:

            I believe he’s saying that hideously ugly tall buildings are inappropriate for Midtown. the 56th and Park tower, for example, is a tasteless needle that nonetheless overshadows the classic architectural grace of the ESB, the Chrysler, and others (even the Citibank tower is more interesting to look at). Can’t wait until these billionaire boys’ club buildings are complete and we can see how dark they are 99% of the time.

    5. Lisa says:

      It would be interesting to cross reference major contributors to DeBlasio’s campaign with the developers applying for this land. Color me surprised if there’s 100% overlap.

    6. Off Duty says:

      Just think of all the melanomas these buildings will inhibit! This mayor is a sheer genius.

    7. lisa s says:

      This is really terrible.

      I am sorry that the de Blasio Administration has not been curtailed these mega developments (including the completely in appropriate building planned on Vanderbilt Avenue)which destroy classic buildings and streetscapes forever and further transform NYC into a place for the wealthy.

      But it was Mayor Bloomberg who gave away NYC and opened the “Pandora’s Box” for all this…. Bloomberg changed zoning, weakened ULURP, and supported and enabled luxury real estate development to a point – and in permanent ways – so that any future mayor would have difficulty reigning in.

      And to add to this is the power of the real estate industry at the State level and that Governor Cuomo fully supports the real estate industry.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “…further transform NYC into a place for the wealthy.”

        Ummm…and this is bad HOW?

        Who, if NOT the “Wealthy” (the latest Liberal Punching Bag), would keep NYC the magnificent place it is by DONATING MAJOR $$$ to:
        1) its museums;
        2) its hospitals;
        3) its NGO’s like Central Park Conservancy, Friends of the High Line, etc. etc.

        People of limited means do not have the disposable cash to donate (even though many DO contribute, usually in amounts of $100 or less) but they ARE able to make their lives less depressing by taking advantage of the institutions SUPPORTED BY THE WEALTHY.

        Guess we should keep them around rather than having mobs with torches and pitchforks drive them across the GW Bridge, as many card-carrying Libruls would have us do!

    8. AC says:

      The area in and around Central Park has always been protected for the past 200 years. Ever since the early settlers and their generations afterwards, as the Island of Manna-hata grew in population, efforts were always made to respect a ‘sanctuary’ part in the middle of the island. As the mid-1800’s came along and cross-streets and avenues were surveyed for development, a Central Park was developed and promises were made that construction would never obstruct this park. Even at our worst time, The Great Depression, when shanty towns were springing up in Central Park, the ‘un-written’ promise was respected, resulting in their removal. In the early 1990’s, Jackie O, fought hard and successfully beat the developers when they were looking to build a skyscraper at the site of The Coliseum.

      I feel as if we’re letting our NYC forefathers down by allowing these shadows to happen. All their hard work for naught.

      ps: nothing wring with construction of skyscrapers, when there is a place for them. This is not such a place.

      • Nathan says:

        If Midtown Manhattan is not the place, where is the place? If anything this is THE MOST appropriate place.

        • AC says:

          Nathan , , , from the depiction, it would appear that anything South of 54th (say 50th street) would prevent such shadows. I’m all for building, but no when it creates a shadow over our beautiful park.

    9. ScooterStan says:

      ATTN all Kvetchers, nay-sayers, and NOE’s (Neo-anderthals Opposed to Everything):

      The shadows cast by the Super-Talls are NOT PERMANENT!

      The earth rotates! And because the earth rotates, shadows appear to MOVE. Experts say a shadow will move ONE DEGREE EVERY THREE MINUTES!

      Therefore, in a half-hour, that shadow will have moved TEN DEGREES. And in an hour TWENTY DEGREES. And in …awrr, do the math.

      So the flora and fauna will NOT BE IN PERMANENT SHADOW. And humans, even tourists (some ARE human, it has been reported) have FEET! And those FEET enable them to MOVE…out of the shadow!

      Finally, Manhattan is NOT Phoenix, and our skies are frequently overcast, which means NO SHADOWS on those days!

      To quote that classic old radio program:

      • These buildings cast early morning and late afternoon shadows on each other. The shorter buildings along Central Park West and Fifth Avenue are more significant during those hours.

    10. John says:

      This is a travesty on the Street level as well. Have you been on 57th St lately? It is horrible. Terrible air quality, light, traffic, etc. In fact, you have to wonder why the rich would want to live there (although I guess it is better air than Shanghai right now).

      • Nathan says:

        Because the air quality on 57th is any different than on 56th?

        • D.R. says:

          Nathan, I used to commute by making a turn crosstown onto 57th Street. However, there came a time, when I had to stop doing so because of the pollution.

          On muggy days, at the half-way point, I found myself choking from the carbon monoxide; on windy ones, I would nonetheless be coughing by the time I reached Park Avenue. (And I was perfect health.)

          Eventually, I opted for 56th street on my way East and 58th Street on my way home.

          That’s how bad it is – and I’m in good health.

      • D.R. says:

        John, do the rich really live there, or are they apartments bought just to stash away cash and serve as investments?

    11. Lucien Desar says:

      Nothing new all of Manhattan has been in perpetual construction ever since the Dutch settled in 1613. By 50 years I bet all of the buildings up to 100th street will be high rise towers (and 50 years after that all of Manhattan)

    12. uws new kid says:

      All the shadows projected in that info graphic are at or below about 65th. it comes to mind that when I walk through that park, each and every day, twice a day, for the last 8 years (I know, i know, newbie….) it comes to mind that the entire area shown is is a hell hole of tourists, pedal cabs, confrontational massage offerings, electric bubble blowing pistols, horses and associated road apples, burned and/or stale pretzels, nomadic charcoal portrait musings, helmet-less city bikes, and all those less than prophetic colored chalk scribbles about being in the moment….you can have it, i am happy to head north.

    13. Craig says:

      So disappointed in our Mayor. Really expected him to be a better leader. Just a sell-out.

      • anon says:

        did you really expect him to be a leader at all?? he’s never successfully led anything and now he’s not doing a great job leading one of the great cities of the world? Shocking. How he got people to actually cast ballots for him is a marvel.

    14. FatCats says:

      The Real Estate industry which bought and paid for the DeBlasio campaign are getting the solid return-on-investment that they had expected. For all you DBD voters who thought he was a transcendent Progressive above the fray of political corruption, please don’t get fooled again. And all the female DBD voters – cover yourself and hide your shame! LOL!

    15. Susan Brown says:

      This certainly isn’t why I voted for DeBlasio. What a mistake, I am deeply dissatisfied. These towers are a blight, not to mention just downright ugly. How could this so-called Progressive administration allow them. Shame, shame, shame. We need New York for New Yorkers not for the wealthly who don’t live here or pay taxes. This is dreadful.

    16. Carlotta Danger of the UWS says:

      The building is awful. Deblasio sold out to REBNY and if any reader of the Westside Rag has ever had a housing issue, wants to talk development, preservation with our Mayor then good luck. The Deblasio administration is a disaster run by Emma Wolf who is too “progressive” to answer her phone, return constituents questions or concerns and that goes for the rest of this administration who want to build build build…yet not one word about “quality”.

    17. UWSider says:

      Oh no matter, we can all drop $2 million on a Jay St. loft and enjoy life in DUMBO!

    18. CA says:

      Where’s the Environmental Impact study on the effect of shadows on the trees, grass, etc, in the park and simultaneous building projects?

    19. russell says:

      It’s in the architectural aesthetics. I agree that the white needle at 57th and Park is a “by the bottom line” residential smokestack for oligarchs – uninteresting, and from a distance, it renders the previously inspired NYC skyline discordant.
      The super tall across 57th St from Carnegie Hall is sheathed like a 3rd tier Miami Beach motel from the 60’s, and at street level, the entrance and uber bright lights are completely tasteless, especially in contrast to Carnegie. Money and taste don’t always coincide, but these buildings contribute nothing to the vibe or beauty of the city. The once bustling Plaza Hotel is now a ghost town. In almost every city, it is hard to find post-war and contemporary architecture that can even approach the wonder induced by the ESB, Chrysler, Rockefeller Center; or the sense of history and belonging invoked by the older buildings in FIDI, UWS, etc. 6th Avenue, which is largely a product of the post-war era international style features boxy office buildings, almost identical in height, having the effect of a refrigerator show room. We don’t have the design, the craft or the will to build to maximize ROI. When I see the old postcards or travel posters about NYC in the 20’s and 30’s, I can only try to imaging what it was like and what we lost.

    20. NativeNYer says:

      The higher the buildings the faster the ice projectiles as they break off the facades.
      I’m not concerned about shadows. Shadows don’t kill.

    21. screamingparrot says:

      Its morethan just an issue with shadows. There is NOWHERE FOR THESE PEOPLE TO GO when everyone descends from their luxury apt tower. already, central park is overloaded, riverside park is too full – i just see more and more towers and no greenspace left. the sidewalks are full too. NYC infrastructure cannot support these towers.