While New York City's real estate market continues to enjoy an upward post-recession swing, the process behind rapidly rising buildings leaves many citizens a bit out of the loop. “Too often, these decisions happen behind closed doors and most residents only hear about them once the deal is done," said Margaret Newman, executive director of The Municipal Art Society.
In response to this problem, the Municipal Art Society has released a set of online maps that illustrate where possible development could occur in Gotham. The maps, called "Accidental Skyline," allow citizens to track land that has available development rights and see how it could impact their neighborhood. They are part of a broader project by MAS to work with the city to make regulatory changes that will better protect iconic public spaces.
The maps highlight the impacts of development on parks, open space, infrastructure, and skyline, and were made possible by the Department of City Planning’s public release of MapPLUTO data last year. They've been updated to include transportation routes, parks, and New York Housing Authority land overlays to present a more comprehensive picture of planning issues.
The construction of the super tall buildings near Central Park has raised public concerns about whether current regulations provide the appropriate balance between public good and private benefit. Many of the buildings are going up as-of-right, meaning they required no public or environmental review.
Other recommendations MAS will suggest to the city include making the process of assembling adjacent plots of land (“zoning lot mergers”) more transparent, establishing height, or other restrictions near small parks, and finding ways to offset the impacts of out-of-scale development on open space.