NYS Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, Assembly District 75 / Chair of Health Committee
February 27, 2019
City Revokes Permits for "Supertall" Building, Proposes Zoning Amendment to Limit "Mechanical Void" Loophole
For New Yorkers concerned about overdevelopment, two positive developments occurred earlier this year. On January 17, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) revoked the permits for the luxury high-rise tower at 30 West 66th Street proposed by the Extell Corporation. The revocation was issued in response to a challenge filed by Landmark West and the 10 W. 66th Street Association that I supported along with other elected officials representing the community. DOB rejected Extell's attempt to create a 160-foot 'mechanical void' in the building -- an empty space that would dramatically raise the height of the building.
DOB has now rightly recognized that this space is not an 'accessory use' for a building, but is instead merely a gimmick to get around City zoning protections restricting building height and density. Following this action, on January 25, the New York City Department of City Planning proposed a zoning text amendment to eliminate the "mechanical void" loophole on a systematic, comprehensive basis. Although I believe even stronger protections are necessary to defend communities from the wave of supertall buildings that threatens to overwhelm many neighborhoods in the city, I will be offering testimony in support of the amendment. These moves by the City will help protect not just the Upper West Side and the Central Park West Historic District from overdevelopment, but also neighborhoods all across the city confronting developers trying to evade City rules to make ever-more profit.
I am hosting a public access cable TV program on the topic of supertall buildings and the threat posed to many communities by overdevelopment as part of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) series Represent NYC. My guests will be NYC Council Member Ben Kallos; Sean Khorsandi, Executive Director of Landmark Westand Mario Messina, President of the 29th Street Association. The program will air on MNN on air Sunday, March 10 at 7 p.m. and re-air on Wednesday, March 13 at 9 p.m. on MNN1 (Spectrum Cable Channels 34 & 1995), MNNHD (Spectrum Channel 1993), and on FIOS (Channel 33).
INVASION OF THE SUPERTALLS: I hosted an episode of "Represent NYC" on the topic of overdevelopment and supertall buiildings with guests (l.-r.) Mario Messina of the 29th Street Assn., Sean Khorsandi of Landmark West, and Manhattan City Councilmember Ben Kallos. It will air on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network on
Sunday, March 10 at 7 p.m. and re-air on Wednesday, March 13 at 9 p.m.
"GENDA" Passes Legislature, Is Signed Into Law
In January, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act
("GENDA," A747/S1047), which protects transgender people under the State's Human Rights Law and hate crimes law, was approved by the Assembly and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor in a ceremony at the LGBTQ Community Center in the Village. The bill, which I sponsored in the Assembly and which was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Brad Hoylman) also protects people who are gender non-conforming (non-binary) and other gender identities or expressions. The Governor also signed into law a bill to ban sexual orientation "conversion therapy" for minors.
It was an historic turn of events. The Assembly had passed GENDA 11 times, but the Senate's Republican Majority always refused to let the bill have a floor vote. But in January the new Democratic Majority in the State Senate joined the Assembly to protect the rights of New Yorkers regardless of gender identity or expression.
Transgender and non-binary people - whose gender identity, appearance, behavior or expression differs from their genetic sex at birth - face discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and other areas of life, and they are particularly vulnerable to hate crimes.
Governor Cuomo took strong action in 2015 when he issued state-wide regulations under the State's Human Rights Law that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and transgender status. But adding gender expression and identity to the Human Rights Law and the Penal Law will give the community proper recognition, protection against repeal of these regulations, and add protection under the Hate Crimes Law.
Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly Member
LOB 822, Albany, NY 12248