City Council’s crackdown on mechanical voids is just the start

Other lawmakers say the measure to cap mechanical voids at 25 feet doesn't go far enough

432 Park Avenue
432 Park Avenue

The City Council has signaled that its move to close supertall developers’ favorite loophole is just the start.

The Council on Wednesday approved a zoning amendment that caps mechanical spaces at 25 feet before they are counted toward the building’s allowable footprint, Curbed reported. The Council’s Land Use Committee voted unanimously to close the void earlier this month.

The measure is the first in an effort to crack down developers’ use of mechanical spaces to jack up building heights to deliver panoramic views and charge higher prices. Lawmakers have also set their sights on forcing the city’s Department of Planning to make good on its promise to study and potentially crack down on mechanical voids in commercial districts, unenclosed voids and “gerrymandered” zoning lots, according to Curbed.

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Assemblymemeber Linda Rosenthal and state Sen. Robert Jackson introduced a bill in Albany to go even further, which would count all mechanical equipment toward a building’s height unless it is less than 5 percent of the property’s total area.

The mechanical void loophole came to the fore in January, when the city revoked Extell Development’s permits to use a 160 foot mechanical space at 50 West 66th Street which the Department of Buildings said violated zoning rules.

[Curbed] — Georgia Kromrei