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Midtown Community Board Wants Moratorium on Luxury Megatowers

 Seven megatowers are underway around West 57th Street.
Seven megatowers are underway around West 57th Street.
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DNAinfo/Heather Holland

MIDTOWN— Stop with the supertall towers, community leaders say.

After a year of study, Community Board 5’s Sunshine Task Force called for a moratorium on megatowers around 57th Street — a neighborhood being dubbed "Billionaire’s Row."

Seven new supertall buildings are being built along the 57th Street corridor, with five more in the pipeline, a report produced by the task force says.

In a letter to the Department of City Planning and the mayor dated May 15, the community board called for a temporary ban on new projects taller than 600 feet.

“We really need to hit the pause button,” said Layla Law-Gisiko, the task force chair.  

Current zoning rules have not caught up with the supertall towers, which are newly possible because of technological advances, Law-Gikiko said.

“This is not a war between CB5 and development,” Law-Gisiko said. “It is just a call for good, comprehensive zoning and planning.”

Midtown needs a change in zoning and land use regulations in order to control the effects of the construction spurt, the report says.

The towers now fall under the city's as-of-right development rules, meaning there is no public mechanism to affect the private deals and building plans, according to the report.

The towers cast long shadows on Central Park, the community board says, and raise other problems such as construction dangers and tax loopholes allowing owners to pay lower property taxes.

“The modification of the current zoning resolution should provide an opportunity to protect access to air and sunlight, mitigate the impact on infrastructure, eliminate tax loopholes and bring much needed transparency in the land development,” the report says.

The board wants condos registered under the names of actual people, rather than limited liability corporations. They also want a pied-a-tierre tax to avoid the apartments becoming investment properties for owners who don't live there, the board said.

The mayor's office, also speaking for the Department of City Planning, said they would review the report.