Decision on Allowing Supersized Development in NYC via State Budget Still in Limbo

(l.) The 1,550-ft.-tall Central Park Tower and the 1,175-unit “Sky” (m.) at 605 West 42nd Street, the tallest and largest apartment buildings in the country, which the current cap allows to be built. The current cap allows the equivalent of 1,200 additional Empire State Buildings (r.) of residential space to be built across NYC, but proponents of abolishing it claim it’s “too restrictive.” 

The State Legislature and Governor blew through the April 1 deadline for a budget agreement, passing an extender to keep state government functioning, and passed another extender to April 17 today. The two sides continue to negotiate around contentious issues, including whether to lift the long-standing residential density cap for NYC that the state legislature has thus far opposed and the Governor and big real estate have pushed. Lifting the cap would allow NYC to rezone any residential neighborhood to permit new development with the sky as the limit, and Village Preservation has been helping lead the campaign to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Village Preservation continues to provide data to undermine proponents’ arguments that lifting the cap is necessary to allow sufficient new housing production in NYC and to address our city’s affordable housing crisis. This includes:

  • The current cap has allowed and would continue to allow construction of buildings like the 1,550-ft.-tall Central Park Tower at 225 West 57th Street, the tallest residential building in the world, or the 1,175-unit ‘Sky’ at 605 West 42nd Street (built 2016), the largest residential building in the country (proponents say the cap is “too restrictive” in limiting the size of new developments). 
  • Under the current cap and existing zoning, NYC can already build an additional 2.7 billion square feet of housing, or the equivalent of 1,200 Empire State Buildings, enough to house an additional 5 million New Yorkers (proponents claim the cap prevents NYC from undertaking necessary housing production). 
  • The proposal to lift the cap doesn’t require the creation of a single unit of affordable housing — the one type of housing the city truly needs (megatall and megadense housing developments in NYC are almost always 100% or predominantly very expensive superluxury housing). 
  • The proposal to lift the cap is based upon wildly inaccurate projections about NYC’s population, which assumed the city’s population growth spurt of the 2010s would continue unabated in the decades ahead, creating a massive need for new housing. In fact, according to census figures the city’s population has dropped precipitously since 2020, wiping out nearly all the population gains of the 2010s and continuing to fall. 

An agreement on the state budget and this issue could come at any time.


April 10, 2023