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Op-Ed: By-Right Zoning Allows Tall Buildings But Not Citizen Feedback

A local block association leader expresses frustration with the development approvals process in New York City.
August 9, 2018, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Chris Giordano, founder and president of the 65th & 66th Streets Block Association, pens an opinion piece that argues against the regulations that enable the development of a 775-foot building in Manhattan.

"I love my neighborhood, a collection of pre-and post-war buildings that now must endure the filth and the racket of a midblock construction site that spans two residential streets—West 65th and 66th," explains Giordano. "There, the developer Extell is in the initial stages of erecting an out-of-scale 775-foot, 127-unit luxury apartment building, rising as high as a typical 80-story structure."

Giordano is frustrated by the ability of the developer to build such a tall structure by right. "The local community board is against it, as is our City Council member, Helen Rosenthal, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Even the mayor directed the City Planning Commission to address the issue of massive voids—empty spaces in the middle of buildings that serve no purpose other than to provide apartments above the void with spectacular views."

Giordano recounts anecdotes of feeling disenfranchised by the New York Department of City Planning, and concludes by arguing that developers are more powerful than citizens under the city's "outdated zoning laws."

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Published on Friday, July 27, 2018 in Crain's New York Business
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