Threat of Super High-Rise Buildings Prompt Town Hall Meeting

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This morning, New Yorkers held a town hall meeting on changing zoning laws to prevent super high-rise buildings on residential side streets. Kamila Kudelska reports.

New York City has limited space….so developers build up. But skyscrapers can mean higher rents and casting shadows. Sutton Place, a residential community on the Upper East Side, is fighting to re-zone their area so that 1,000 foot megatowers won’t come into their neighborhood. Kamila Kudelska has this report.

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KK 1: Sutton place is a quiet, residential community. It’s the ten blocks that stretch from 50th to 59th, East of 1st avenue. When it comes to height, compared to some other areas of New York City, Sutton Place doesn’t stand out. But Bauhouse group, a developer, has proposed a mega tower, five times taller than the other buildings here. That has Jerry Rosenkranz a long time resident of the neighborhood concerned. His big beef. Just listen to how he introduces himself.

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ROSENKRANZ 1
KK: And can I get your name.
JR: Jerry Sun Rosenkranz. No, Jerry Rosenkranz.
Aside from the obvious height which is a real problem is the fact that these buildings and a lot of them around Central Park are blocking out the sun.

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KK: The new pencil like building would be almost as tall as the Empire State.
The zoning in the neighborhood doesn’t limit the height of new construction. The last time the law was updated was 1961 which Rosenkranz says means.

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We are going to have to live with shade and that is a terrible sacrifice. (00:22)

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Like Rosenkranz a lot of residents are unhappy. That’s why they have gathered today for a town hall meeting. (AMBI for two or 3 sec) Almost a year ago, community members a and elected officials banded together and submitted a new re-zoning designation for the neighborhood. The plan is complicated but one thing it would do is create a height limit. But supertall buildings don’t just cast shadows — they can also come with high rents. So the new plan would allow for more affordable housing.

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MCCURY: The affordable housing piece is extremely important to us. We are losing affordable housing with the advent of this megatower. (00:20)

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That’s Lisa McCury, she’s with the the East River Fifties Alliance a neighborhood organization created as a reaction to proposed megatower developments like this one. Over the summer Mayor de Blasio annouced initiatve to create more affordable housing. McCurry says the proposed zoning would fit in well with the mayor’s proposal.

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MCCURRY 2
It’s a plan that’s really been developed with enormous number of factors in mind. With the idea of keeping the community plus affordable of housing here in New York

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McCury says under the proposed plan new developments would reserve 20% of units for affordable housing. The Bahause development only requires four to five percent.

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City Councilmember Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side. He says what he hears from his constituents.

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KALLOS 1
we need affordable housing much more than we need another super scraper for billionaires. (00:06)

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Jerry Rosenkranz and his neighbors hope the mayor will approve the rezoning plan. But for now there’s plenty of sun. Three buildings have been demolished where the Bahaus development is proposed. Kamila Kudelska, Columbia Radio News.

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MCCURRY 1
It would be looming over this entire community. The advent of one tower there would be potential for many more to invade the neighborhood unless a true height cap, rezoning text amendment is to be part of our new zoning. (00:19)

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