Extell’s UWS tower could be imperiled if city cracks down on this building trick

DOB says project doesn't violate zoning code

TRD New York /
Nov.November 30, 2018 04:30 PM

Rendering of 50 West 66th Street with Bill de Blasio and Extell Development’s Gary Barnett (Credit: Snøhetta)

The city’s Department of Building says Extell Development’s Upper West Side apartment building abides by current zoning rules — but the battle over the tower’s height might be far from over.

Extell plans a 770-foot tower at 50 West 66th Street, a project that some city officials and residents have publicly opposed through a zoning challenge filed with the DOB. On Thursday, City Council member Helen Rosenthal, who opposes the project, announced that the DOB had rejected the challenge.

But the de Blasio administration announced earlier this year that it would regulate a key design feature of Extell’s project: structural voids. These are floors for a building’s mechanical equipment, but developers have increasingly used the space as a way to boost the height of their luxury towers without adding additional residential space. Doing so allows the developers to charge more per square foot. According to Crain’s, the city is expected to announce reforms to the structural voids by the end of the year.

“I’m hopeful Mayor de Blasio will still make good on his promise, via zoning changes, before [the DOB] approves this 770-foot building,” Rosenthal said.

[Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel

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