Opposing Gov. Hochul’s Proposal to Allow Supersized Development in NYC Neighborhoods

Earlier this month, Governor Hochul proposed eliminating the longstanding, reasonable, and necessary cap on the size of residential developments in New York State, which limits it to a floor area ratio of 12 (12 FAR). To give context, the over 1000-ft.-tall supertall towers of 57th Street’s “Billionaire’s Row” were built under zoning that only allows 10 FAR for residential development. Lifting the cap would allow real estate developers, with the approval of the City, to build even larger supertall structures and massive developments than the current very generous rules allow.

Mayor de Blasio previously sought this change from the State legislature, which we and allies successfully opposed. The current Governor has re-raised this proposal in the context of affordable housing and the desire to allow conversions of large office towers, hotels, and other commercial buildings to residential uses. We support such possibilities, and there are means at the city and state’s disposal to allow residential conversions of larger buildings, and to build needed affordable housing, without eliminating the cap. Residential structures of over 12 FAR will almost certainly be entirely or largely luxury developments, and will only benefit real estate developers and the very wealthy, instead of average New Yorkers and the communities in which they will be located. Lifting the 12 FAR cap opens a potential Pandora’s Box of overdevelopment in New York City neighborhoods, and should not be approved. 

January 25, 2022