Past Challenges

249 EAST 62ND STREET (2017)

New building under construction by Zeckendorf Development in 2022

Building Name: 249 East 62nd Street
Architect: Rafael Vinoly Architects
Developer: Inverlad/ Third Palm Capital
Building Height (to roof): 510 feet
Number of Stories: 32
Number of Units: 83
DOB Information: Click here.

Project Information:
Inverlad’s development at 249 East 62nd Street, just steps away from the Treadwell Farm Historic District, is a prime example of zoning loopholes being manipulated by developers in order to boost the height of residential towers so that units can obtain the best possible city views. Rafael Vinoly Architects’ design for the 32-story residential tower includes a 150 foot-tall hollow octagonal core intended to raise the upper residential floors without counting toward ‘usable’ square footage.

On November 3, 2017, FRIENDS, working with urban planner George Janes, filed a Zoning Challenge with the Department of Buildings, questioning the agency’s approval of the plans. In the challenge, FRIENDS argued that 249 East 62nd Street is a tower-on-base building unlike any ever conceived, as the massive void is vastly larger than necessary for mechanical usage and the space is entirely deducted from the building’s floor area calculation, making it a particularly egregious example of zoning loopholes in action, view the filing materials HERE.

After six months, the Department of Buildings (DOB) has finally responded to FRIENDS’ Zoning Challenge of 249 East 62nd Street filed in November 2017. The DOB has denied any error in its zoning approval for this building, despite FRIENDS’ argument that the 150-foot void at the center of the building is vastly larger than necessary for any possible mechanical use and constitutes a nearly unprecedented exploitation of the city’s Zoning Resolution.

As covered in Crain’s, the DOB partially accepted two other technical issues raised by FRIENDS in the challenge, including basic arithmetic errors and will require the applicant to fix them before proceeding with construction. But DOB’s endorsement of the developer’s tactic to game the system for additional height and the agency’s unwillingness to enforce the intent of zoning, underscores the need for a legislative solution to close the loopholes in our Zoning Resolution that contribute to overdevelopment. You can read the full text of the DOB’s response HERE.

In May 2018, FRIENDS filed a Community Appeal challenging the DOB’s inadequate response, at the same time, FDNY expressed concerns regarding the fire safety of the 150-foot void. In January 2019, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Liz Krueger, Council Members Ben Kallos and Keith Powers, and FRIENDS wrote to DOB requesting the building to be referred to FDNY for review and approval. You can read the full letter HERE. In February 2019, DOB issued an objection to plans filed for 249 East 62nd, requiring FDNY written approval of the plans. After significant alterations to the plans, the applicant received the required approval from FDNY in July 2019 in the form of a Letter of No Objection. A new Zoning Diagram was filed, and in December 2019, DOB required the developer to revise its plans in order to comply with the 23-16 Zoning Resolution – amended in May of 2019 to limit the height of enclosed mechanical voids in buildings within Manhattan’s highest density neighborhoods.

249 East 62nd Street page highlight

Additional Information

UES Tower On ‘Stilts’ Halted By City Department Of Buildings, by Brendan Krisel. Patch, March 11, 2019
Plans for ‘condo on stilts’ halted over fire safety concerns, says DOB, by Caroline Spivack. Curbed New York, March 8, 2019
NYC Tries To Close ‘Mechanical Void’ Loophole That ‘Supersizes’ The Skyline, by Elizabeth Kim. Gothamist, January 25, 2019
Snøhetta’s Upper West Side skyscraper may have its permits revoked, by Johnathan Hilburg. The Architects Newspaper, January 17, 2019
City green-lights UES tower’s height-boosting gambit, by Joe Anuta. Crain’s New York Business, May 4, 2018
Is this what Rafael Vinoly’s Upper East Side condo on stilts will look like?, by Tanya Warerkar. Curbed NY, February 20, 2018
Apartment fit for the Jetsons comes into the focus on UES, by Joe Anuta. Crain’s New York Business, February 20, 2018
Viñoly’s Jetsons-Esque Skyscraper at 249 East 62nd Street Revealed, Upper East Side, by Nikolai Fedak. New York YIMBY, February 20, 2018
Upper East Siders challenge NYC’s latest ‘building on stilts', by Tanay Warerkar. Curbed New York, December 1, 2017
Octagonal ‘periscope’ tower proposed for Rafael Vinoly’s 249 East 62nd Street, by Michelle Cohen. 6sqft, September 28, 2017

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