These Manhattan Residents Call for City to Limit Some Mega Towers

Residents of small but wealthy Manhattan neighborhood are organizing to stop a plan for a super tall building in their community. But opponents say the proposal smacks of elitism. NY1's Michael Scotto has the story.

Sutton Place residents came out this week in an attempt to halt the construction of a 67-story luxury building that would rise nearly 800 feet.

"Putting a giant tower in this neighborhood is like dressing a little baby in a black leather jacket," one woman said at a community meeting. "It just doesn't fit."

"Mega towers are mega stupid," another woman told the crowd.

The well-heeled residents of the East Side neighborhood hope to stop the building with an unusual and controversial rezoning plan that they're now trying to push through the city planning commission.

Their proposal would cap most building heights at 210 and 235 feet — roughly no taller than 18 stories — in a new, special zoning district. Buildings that include some affordable housing could be slightly taller.

Some residents of the nearly 500-foot-tall Sovereign — home to super-rich people like Donald Trump Jr. — are leading the sophisticated campaign.

Local elected officials have signed onto the idea.

"I think every New Yorker is tired of super tall towers going in that have no place in residential neighborhoods, and for the first time residents have banded together and fought back," Manhattan City Councilman Ben Kallos said.

Critics insist local residents just want to protect their views, and that the proposed limit would set a bad precedent of allowing small, well-to-do neighborhoods to carve out exceptions to broader zoning plans.

"You'd basically thwart development throughout the city," developer Jonathan Kalikow said. "Any single resident, any single building or enclave, could stop construction."

The head of the planning commission claimed the group's plans to limit building heights actually would lead to the creation of less, not more, affordable housing, as the group claims.

"The proposal would effectively be a downzoning, discouraging the production of even market rate housing, which in turns makes affordable housing creation less likely," Marisa Lago, the commission's director, said June 5.

Commission officials have not yet said when they will vote on the proposal, but it is likely to happen this summer.

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