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Councilman Hosts Forum to Discuss Blocking Shadow-Making 'Superscrapers'

By Shaye Weaver | July 22, 2015 8:41am
 In response to tall condos sprouting up around town, City Councilman Ben Kallos is hosting a meeting on how to prevent them from spreading across the Upper East Side.   
Superscraper Meeting Slated
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UPPER EAST SIDE — City Councilman Ben Kallos is fed up with super-tall skyscrapers he says are leaving Upper East Side residents in the dark — literally.

The towers' shadows block light from reaching neighboring apartment buildings and stand out among the more modest buildings in the neighborhood, Kallos said, pointing in particular to a proposal to build a 900-foot-tall tower in Sutton Place.

Kallos is hosting a public forum on July 23 in hopes of working with community groups and other elected officials to put a cap on the height of "superscrapers"  — which he defines as any skyscrapers that extend beyond 500 feet in a residential area.

He said he hopes to work quickly to stop the proposed Sutton Place condo tower, which would be one of the tallest buildings on the east side at 90 floors.

The Bauhouse Group bought properties between 426 and 432 East 58th St. for $32 million in January. No applications for demolition or construction for the addresses were filed as of Tuesday, according to the Department of Buildings' online records. A spokesperson for the Bauhouse Group did not immediately return a request for comment.

"There are a lot of skyscrapers in the 57th Street corridor, which is outside of my district so I was unable to engage it, but when 58th Street's Sutton Place came across my desk on April Fool's Day, I had hoped it was a joke," Kallos said.

"If we create a city where every building is 200 stories tall, the only people who will get light are the people on the top floor. Everyone else would live in the shadow of the rest."

Kallos also highlighted another project at 432 Park Ave., calling it the beginning of an "eruption" of tall towers. The Park Avenue condo is the tallest skyscraper on the Upper East Side at roughly 1,400 feet, or 96 stories.

Residents will begin moving in this fall, according to Joey Arak, a spokesman for the condominium.

The councilman said he would like to work on a zoning change that would put a cap on the height of buildings based on the neighborhood in which they're planned so that skyscrapers like these cannot be built in more residential areas.

He's been working with the new East River Fifties Alliance and Community Board 6, which adopted a resolution to put a moratorium on building tall towers. The resolution was sent to the City Planning Commission in May, Kallos said. 

Taking CB6's example, the idea of the forum on Thursday is to start a discussion among community groups and elected officials to talk about how to do something similar on the Upper East Side.

"Some people feel that if others don’t want tall buildings they should move out, but for those who can't move out or for those who grew up here or want to stay here, we need to preserve the neighborhood," Kallos said.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. on July 23 at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. Reserve a seat by signing up online or by calling 212-860-1950 or emailing rsvp@benkallos.com.