Victory: In Spite of Intense Pressure, Albany Keeps Residential Density Cap in Place, Doesn’t Allow Supersized Development

Not big enough? Proponents of lifting the residential cap say that supersized super-luxury buildings like the 1,550-ft-tall Central Park Tower (l.; tallest residential building in the world), The Sky at 605 West 42nd Street (m.; 1,175 units and the largest residential building in America), and Silver Towers at 620 West 42nd Street (r.; 1,359 units) should be even bigger, and such allowances would make NYC a more equitable and affordable place. 

The state legislature’s session ended last week, and in spite of intense pressure by the Governor, Mayor, Manhattan Borough President, real estate industry, and pro-upzoning groups, the legislature did not accede to demands to remove the long-standing cap on the allowable size of residential developments in NYC, which would have allowed the city to rezone any residential neighborhood for supersized development. In fact, the two houses of the State Legislature came to an agreement on their plan for addressing New York’s housing and affordability challenges (the purported reason for lifting the cap), and we’re pleased to report that their varied and multipronged plan wisely did NOT include lifting the cap on the maximum allowable size of new residential developments. The Governor, however, refused to agree to this plan, and thus no action was taken on addressing the state’s housing issues.

This is the fourth year we have successfully helped fight off efforts by the real estate industry, upzoning advocates, and some government leaders to completely remove this cap, allowing zoning changes in which the sky could be the limit for new residential developments. The current 60-year-old cap, which opponents claim is overly restrictive, has already allowed in our city and would continue to allow buildings as tall as 1,550 ft (the tallest residential building in the world) and close to 1,500 units (the largest residential building in the United States). Proponents argue allowing even larger buildings would have beneficial “trickle down” effects on the housing market and affordability, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.

We wish to again thank some of our most vocal allies in government in opposing this measure — Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Grace Lee, and City Councilmember Christopher Marte

June 12, 2023