East 88th Street Tower: Zoning for New Heights Sinks to a New Low

An article in Monday’s New York Times, “4-Foot-Wide Lot, Carved Out by Developers, Causes Big Stir in Manhattan,” highlights a development project of serious concern to FRIENDS and other neighborhood advocates.

Located on an L-shaped lot near the northwest corner of East 88th Street and Third Avenue, 180 East 88th Street is projected to be the tallest building north of 72nd Street, measuring up at 521 feet.

New information released by Council Member Ben Kallos in partnership with Carnegie Hill Neighbors raises questions about a zoning loophole exploited by the developer to unlock additional height for the building.

Through the creation of a tiny, unbuildable lot only 4′ deep and 22′ wide, the developer circumvented the zoning law to allow for a taller building with just 48 luxury units. This differs from plans previously submitted for a Department of Buildings (DOB) determination which proposed a lot 30′ in depth.

“The Zoning Resolution exists to protect the public while guiding development. Deliberate lack of compliance with the process makes a farce of the Zoning Resolution and we urge City agencies to work together to ensure that interpretation of policy truly serves the public interest,” said Rachel Levy, Executive Director of FRIENDS in Council Member Kallos’ press release“The creation of this four foot lot subsequent to DOB determination obscures the applicant’s intent and decreases much-needed, but sorely lacking, transparency in the development process.”

“The only thing this micro-lot is good for is two coffins, laid end to end, but the developer gets 60 extra feet on his building. How does that serve the public good?” questioned Franny Eberhart, President of FRIENDS.

Together with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Kallos has called for the DOB to re-open the determination. Join FRIENDS in opposition to such disingenuous zoning schemes which violate the spirit of our city’s zoning code.

What can YOU do?

– Read the DOB letter signed by Council Member Kallos and Borough President Brewer, and the press release

– Voice your support! Direct your letters of support for the DOB to reopen the determination on 180 East 88th Street to:

Hon. Benjamin Kallos, City Council District 5
244 East 93rd Street
New York, NY 10128
(212) 860-1950

See a sample message here, and click here to send a message. 

86th Street, Manhattan

RKO Proctor’s 86th Street Theatre, Designed by Thomas W. Lamb Source: NYC Municipal Archives