— warrenstjohn (@warrenstjohn) October 29, 2013
This is an extremely elegant op-ed by Warren St. John about the effects of development along Central Park. A central component of zoning decisions in New York City has to do with air and light—the canyonization of parts of the city, essentially.
TWENTY-SIX years ago this month, a coalition of New Yorkers led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis won a historic victory for Central Park. At issue was a planned building on Columbus Circle by the developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman with 58- and 68-story towers that would cast long shadows on the park. After a lawsuit by opponents of the plan and a rally in Central Park at which over 800 New Yorkers with umbrellas formed a line to simulate the building’s shadow, Mr. Zuckerman relented and agreed to scale down his design, which eventually became known as the Time Warner Center…. Fueled by lax zoning laws, cheap capital and the rise of a global elite with millions to spend on pieds-à-terre, seven towers — two of them nearly as tall as the Empire State Building — have recently been announced or are already under way near the south side of the park. This so-called Billionaires’ Row, with structures rising as high as 1,424 feet, will form a fence of steel and glass that will block significant swaths of the park’s southern exposure, especially in months when the sun stays low in the sky.