The Real Deal New York

Controversial Rafael Viñoly-designed UES tower gets DOB seal of approval

By dedicating high-ceilinged floors to mechanical systems, the tower's upper floors will float above the city to the ire of neighbors
May 05, 2018 10:22AM

249 East 62nd Street. (Credit: Rafael Viñoly Architects, Pixabay)

A pair of developers in the Upper East Side have reached new heights of interpreting New York’s zoning code.

Despite neighborhood controversy, Third Palm Capital and Real Estate Inverlad Development’s Rafael Viñoly-designed tower has been approved, according to Crain’s.

The unusual element behind the local ire against the plans for 249 East 62nd Street is a hollowed-out mid-section, reserved for mechanical systems, that gives the upper 12 floors of the building significantly more height–and therefore views and prices–without exceeding permitted square footage allowances.

As planned, the 32-story building will rise 510 feet and cover over 150,000 square feet, with 83 residential units taking up the majority of the area with 2,588 square feet worth of retail. The three-floor mechanical void at issue will take up floors 13 to 16, while an additional three floors for mechanical systems will top the building.

The move exploits a loophole, which city officials say is against the code’s intent.

“The notion that there are empty spaces for the sole purpose of making the building taller for the views at the top is not what was intended [by the zoning code],” director of the Department of City Planning Marisa Lago said at a recent meeting, as Crain’s reported. The de Blasio administration promised to review the code and consider whether to limit the floor height of mechanical voids in future. [Crain’s]Erin Hudson