Watch a recording of our online talk "Fact and Fiction about the 12FAR Cap" by urban planner and zoning expert George Janes held on March 21st and co-sponsored by FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and Landmark West!
For the fourth time in recent years, there is an active proposal at the highest level of state government to lift the longstanding cap on residential density in New York City. Without the state law that limits residential development to 12 FAR (Floor Area Ratio), New York City will likely implement plans to change zoning and allow for larger and taller buildings on the Upper East and Upper West Sides, as well as places like Sutton Place and Kips Bay. This change would likely lead to more development in what are already the densest residential neighborhoods in the country.
Advocates for lifting the cap claim that it is the key to the creation of vast amounts of affordable housing citywide. But new 12 FAR buildings are tall and expensive, usually built for an ultra-luxury audience who can pay for them. In existing residential areas they are likely to displace existing affordable units and threaten neighborhood infrastructure and livability. Huge portions of New York City are currently vastly underbuilt, and could accommodate more housing without rezoning. And there are better ways of achieving affordable housing in every neighborhood than increasing density in already very dense areas.
Urban planner and zoning expert George Janes delves into this issue to expose the fallacy behind the affordable housing argument for lifting the cap, and explore some possible paths forward.
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