Mechanical void loophole closed by City Council vote

Excessive mechanical voids have plagued the upper east and west sides of Manhattan recently.

“This is only a start and we need to go much further”

The City Council voted to close a zoning loophole that has
allowed developers to boost building heights with excessive
mechanical spaces—but it’s only the first step in addressing
the issue, say lawmakers.

The zoning amendment that passed chiefly caps mechanical spaces
at 25 feet before they eat into a building’s allowable footprint.
The council approved the change after months of debate between
neighborhood advocates
calling the measure too lenient
and industry experts
decrying it as too restrictive.
But lawmakers have their sights
set on additional changes that could make it even more of a
challenge for developers to abuse loose zoning language.

“We taking a significant step towards stopping developers from
getting around zoning to give billionaires views instead of
building the affordable housing New Yorkers need,” said Council
member Ben Kallos, who represents Midtown East and the Upper East
Side, during Wednesday’s vote. “This is only a start and we
need to go much further.”

One way lawmakers aim to do so is by holding the Department of
City Planning to its pledge to study and potentially introduce
changes to address mechanical voids in commercial districts,

unenclosed voids
and
“gerrymandered” zoning lots
.

Still, some council members feel the zoning amendment only takes
baby steps toward resolving a problem that in
one controversial Upper West Side building
developed by Extell
Development led to a 160 foot mechanical space—which may be
grandfathered in if the building has completed foundational
work.

“This particular building is only bringing in 121 apartments.
It’s doing nothing for affordable housing and the new zoning will
only lower the height of that building by six floors—instead of
an 80-story building we have a 74-story building,” said Council
member Helen Rosenthal, who said she was “very disheartened” by
the “disappointing” zoning change.

Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Mechanical void loophole closed by City Council vote