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NYC Gov't Planning New Rules To Stop Supertall Developers Skirting Zoning Laws

A rendering of 50 West 66th St.

New York City is drafting new rules that would close a loophole developers have been using to push projects into supertall territory.

The new rules would reduce the amount of empty space developers can include in their building for mechanics, Crain’s New York Business reports. Right now, the rules allow for floors where mechanical equipment is located to have soaring ceilings, sometimes reaching over 100 feet.

The space doesn’t count toward the footage allowed in the zoning, giving developers the chance to offer pricier apartments with better views than their neighbors, despite not technically being allowed to build taller.

"We're saying no to empty buildings filled with voids simply to give the 1% better views while leaving the rest of us in their shadow," Councilman Ben Kallos said to Crain's in a statement.

Initially, the rules will apply to residential areas and then be extended to commercial business districts later in the year. The plan is to change the rules to say that any mechanical floor with a ceiling height above 25 feet will be included in the zoning limitations. All mechanical voids will be required to be at least 75 feet apart to avoid stacking small floors on top of each other.

Last week, the Department of Buildings threatened to revoke Extell Development's permit to build its 775-foot-tall residential building at 50 West 66th St. unless it provides an amended plan. In order to get its top apartments up higher, Extell designed the upper floors to rest on stilts using a mechanical room with a 150-foot-high ceiling, which opponents said was essentially an empty space used as a loophole to push up the height.

It is not yet clear if these new rules will impact this development, according to Crain's, or when they could be made official.

Related Topics: Extell Development, zoning laws