<< Back

Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal's proposed state legislation re: mechanical voids

WHEREAS, The rapid proliferation of supertall buildings in many parts of New York City has permanently altered the city’s skyline and raised a number of important concerns; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five has been the epicenter of this worrisome trend, with notable impacts on street life, infrastructure, and open space already altering community life; and

WHEREAS, Left unaddressed, this pattern of building will continue to negatively impact the community; and

WHEREAS, The exploitation of “mechanical voids” has fueled the creation of these supertall buildings by creating excessively tall or irregularly spaced accommodations for mechanical equipment that far exceed what is reasonably required for such machinery; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five has regularly raised concerns about this trend through a series of resolutions, as well as through the Central Park Sunshine Task Force; and

WHEREAS, NY State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal (District 67) has introduced a bill (A.5026) to address the mechanical void issue by amending the State Multiple Dwelling Law to further define “floor area,” which is used to calculate “Floor Area Ratio” (FAR) as referenced and utilized in the New York City Zoning code; and

WHEREAS, This bill would require that all void space exceeding either 5% of the total building height or 20 feet be counted as floor area; and

WHEREAS, After that initial 5% of total building height or 20 feet, each additional 12 feet of void space height will be counted as an additional floor for the purposes of FAR calculation; and

WHEREAS, Any ceiling height in excess of 12 feet will be counted as an additional floor; and

WHEREAS, Open space including balconies, terraces, and other spaces that are not bordered by four
walls would also be counted toward FAR; and

WHEREAS, Cellar space, attic space less than eight feet in height, and mechanical bulkheads would not
count as floor area; and

WHEREAS, This proposed bill would apply to residential buildings citywide, giving important
protections to vulnerable sites throughout Community Board Five; and

WHEREAS, The City of New York is currently considering a zoning text amendment to address
mechanical voids, about which Community Board Five passed a resolution in February 2019 that
articulated a broad range of longstanding concerns that were not effectively addressed by the proposal
despite the Community Board’s extensive advocacy on the issue; and

WHEREAS, This proposed state legislation effectively addresses many of the concerns raised by the
February 2019 resolution while appropriately balancing the need for reasonable accommodation of
mechanical equipment in buildings and maintaining design flexibility; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends the passage of state bill A.5026 to close the
loopholes that have allowed the exploitation of mechanical voids to create supertall buildings that have
damaging impacts on street life, open space, and community safety; and be it further,

RESOLVED, Community Board Five encourages the state legislature to continue reviewing the
consideration of the proposed City zoning text amendment and adapt the proposed state legislation as
necessary to ensure the two complement each other in a way that ensures appropriate limitations on
supertall buildings throughout Community Board Five; and be it further,

RESOLVED, Community Board Five encourages the state legislature and the City Planning Commission
to ensure that existing loopholes be closed that artificially allow for the creation of supertall buildings,
and that the new regulations do not create new ways to bypass the goals of the legislation and the text
amendment, including how mixed use buildings would be assessed under these rules.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter