Open Forum Welcomes Debate on Skyscrapers Rising Near Central Park

By Mathew Katz on February 18, 2014 11:56am 

 One57 is one of several luxury towers being constructed near Central Park.
One57 is one of several luxury towers being constructed near Central Park.
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DNAinfo/Heather Holland

MIDTOWN — A public forum on the gigantic new buildings springing up near Central Park sold out so quickly that it's being relocated to a theater that can fit more than 500.

Community Board 5's Wednesday night Town Hall on Central Park Supertowers — which had been scheduled to take place at the 143-seat Museum of Arts and Design Theater — will now be held at the Celeste Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library, officials said.

Nearly 500 people are expected to attend the free discussion, which will bring together developers, architects, politicians and urban planners to discuss the looming skyscrapers and their impact on the neighborhood.

Among the hot-button issues expected to be discussed are fears about shadows being cast over the park, the need for new infrastructure to serve the towers and the potential implications for landmarked buildings in the area, organizers said.

The new towers include Extell's Development's One57, a 75-story skyscraper on West 57th Street where a duplex penthouse apartment sold for more than $90 million in 2012. The tower — which already casts a large shadow on Central Park — became famous after a crane working on it collapsed during Hurricane Sandy.

Several other massive skyscrapers are in the process of being built in the area, including 432 Park Ave., which at 1,398 feet will become the third-tallest tower in the country.

Extell's president, Gary Barnett, will participate in the panel, along with New York Landmarks Conservancy president Peg Breen, architect and urban planner Michael Kwartler, landscape architect Judith Heintz, Municipal Art Society executive directory Margaret Newman and former New York Times columnist Warren St. John. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will introduce the panelists.

The town hall forum will run for two hours, starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Admission is free, but requires an RSVP on the Community Board 5 website. 

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