April 2015
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Archive for April, 2015

Sunshine Task Force Town Hall

MAS has been actively involved with development issues near Central Park for decades. In 1987, we organized a “Stand Against the Shadow,” where hundreds of protestors with black umbrellas demonstrated potential shadows cast by proposed tall towers on what was then the Coliseum site. And in December 2013, we responded to the sudden influx of super tall towers along 57th street with our seminal Accidental Skyline report, tracing the city’s transferable air rights process. In the 18 months since our report came, there has been no city action in response, while more towers threaten to overwhelm our parks and public spaces.

The fundamental problem here is outdated zoning regulations. New York City’s current zoning resolution was devised over 50 years ago and could not account for recent advances in building technologies or the changes in the real estate markets that have led to the construction of super tall towers.

Fifty years is an eternity in the lifespan of building design and construction. Fifty years before the Empire State Building topped out, the tallest structure in Manhattan was the steeple at Trinity Church. Using 1961 zoning guidelines in the era of 432 Park is like applying colonial construction standards to the 1930s skyscraper boom.

These buildings are largely being built as-of-right and without any public review, even though they will be among the tallest structures in the country.

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An Earth Day Message on Resilience from MAS

By: Mary Rowe

Since Superstorm Sandy struck the Northeast coast on October 29, 2012, city, state and federal agencies, organizations, and individuals around the region have mobilized to aid impacted communities in their recovery efforts, and consider new ways to make New York and the surrounding region more resilient. What better moment to reflect on our collective progress than Earth Day, when the world pauses to check in on the planetary ecosystem in which we live?

The resilience of urban systems—including their natural, physical, social, and economic infrastructure—is strongly linked to the livability of neighborhoods and the city as a whole. Resilience is not just about emergency preparedness, it is a lens through which communities grow, adapt, and address persistent challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Public agencies and institutions play a critical role in developing and implementing large scale solutions, but an effective urban resilience strategy requires the mobilization of the social, intellectual, and cultural capital of the residents that live and work in vulnerable communities and can improvise hyper-local approaches.

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MAS Supports City & Suburban First Avenue Estates

Contact: Meaghan Baron
mbaron@mas.org | (212) 935-3960 ex. 1229

Re: Stahl Organization sues city over landmark rentals

“MAS has been proud to defend the City & Suburban First Avenue Estate complex as a historic treasure across more than two decades. We were dismayed to hear that this important site—a vibrant part of our city’s cultural and historical legacy—is once again under siege. We strongly urge the State Supreme Court to resist this most recent encroachment against 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street. The hardship provisions of the Landmarks Law should not be treated like a loophole, and the Stahl Organization has failed to present convincing evidence that this radical step is in any way justified.”

– MAS President Vin Cipolla and MAS Executive Director Margaret Newman

New Council Bill Reflects MAS Concerns about Park Shadows

On March 31, Councilmember Mark Levine introduced legislation that would begin to address one of the key priorities identified by MAS in the landmark 2013 report, The Accidental Skyline. Councilmember’s Levine’s bill would establish a task force which would meet twice per year and issue recommendations on ways that proposed developments can mitigate the impact of their shadows.

MAS Executive Director Margaret Newman said, “In the year and a half since MAS launched the Accidental Skyline project, we have heard New Yorkers in all five boroughs clamoring for accountability when as-of-right private developments impact public amenities like parks. Access to air and light is a right of all New Yorkers and we have been delighted to work with Councilmember Levine this year on the need for comprehensive shadows legislation. We applaud the introduction of LS-3471, an important first step that proves New York doesn’t have to settle for an Accidental Skyline.”

Dana Rubenstein at Capital New York examined the details of the bill and its announcement, pointing back to Ms. Newman’s previous comments about shadow ordinances in San Francisco and other cities last year.

MAS will continue to stay involved with the progress of Councilmember Levine’s proposed legislation.