Slim shady: Tall, skinny condos will cast long shadows in Central Park

A view of Central Park, looking south
A view of Central Park, looking south

The super-skinny, ultra-high, mega-luxury towers currently under construction on 57th Street will do more than bring a new type of international billionaire to the neighborhood: They’ll cast long, dark shadows across a wide swath of Central Park.

“The Accidental Skyline,” a study published in December by the Municipal Art Society of New York, a non-profit that advocates “intelligent” urban design and planning, details the shadowy effects of these high-rises, which are being built “as of right”  —  meaning without public review.

“It’s troubling that the sky’s the limit when it comes to one of our most precious public spaces,” Municipal Art Society president Vin Cipolla told the Daily News. “We need to protect these spaces.”

Among the condos in the works: One57  —  1,004-foot high, 90-story luxury hotel and condo tower, which currently has two penthouses in contract for upwards of $90 million  —  and 111 West 57th Street, which, though only 60 feet wide, is expected to rise to 1,350 feet, surpassing the height of the Empire State Building.

This batch of luxe, sky-high projects will dramatically alter the light available to those enjoying an afternoon in Central Park. At certain days and times, the shadows will stretch far within the park, plunging many popular spots — such as the Central Park Zoo and Heckscher Playground —  into darkness.

On  December 21, the winter solstice , the study shows shadowy fingers extending far to the north of the park, reaching the Ramble.

The Municipal Art Society has prior experience battling shadows over “the lungs of the city.” In the 1980s, they led a campaign against a proposed development at the southwestern corner of Central Park. In 1987, they staged a “Stand Against the Shadow” event; hundreds of protesters carried black umbrellas where the buildings’ shadows would fall. The mixed-use project was eventually built , but the resulting Time Warner Center was set back from the park, was shorter in stature and also incorporated arts programming (Jazz at Lincoln Center).

In the current heated real estate market, however, developers have been met with little resistance. Today’s tall condos are the result of developers’ purchasing air rights from neighboring buildings, outdated zoning laws and technological advancements that have made skinny towers possible, according to the study.

However, the Municipal Art Society argues that any construction project that could cause shadows on public spaces should be subject to public review. “We should be studying these impacts before the buildings are going up, not after, when it’s already too late,” Cipolla told the Daily News.  —  Lisa Keys

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Average January rents

Studio         $3,288
1 bed           $3,993
2 beds         $7,081
3 beds         $14,327
> 3 beds      $29,656[/column]

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Average January sale price

Studio         $630,000
1 bed           $1,193,750
2 beds         $2,468,750
3 beds         N/A
>3 beds      N/A[/column]

Source: StreetEasy

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