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City councilman looking to rain on parade of cloudbuster builders

New York is not a city that is often overshadowed. Councilman Mark Levine would like to keep it that way.

Councilman Mark Levine
Councilman Mark Levine

Currently in the early stages of forming a task force that would assess the impact of tall developments and the shadows that they create on Central Park, Levine feels that the city must begin to consider the consequences of racing for the clouds.

“From the moment I was designated chair of the Parks Committee, advocates started to raise this issue with me,” Levine told Real Estate Weekly. “Over the past year, with the rise of the towers just south of Central Park, the alarm has only grown stronger.”

Levine said that the city currently entertains a “status quo” that doesn’t “take account of the shadow impact on parks.”

“The biggest problem is spring and autumn,” Levine continued. “The sun is low in the sky and the temperatures are such that people are drawn to the sun. If you go through a park this time of year in April, you’ll see people sitting on the sunny benches and very few people sitting in the shade.”

Levine feels that the shadows created by properties such as CIM’s 432 Park and Extell’s One57 will ruin the experience of the park’s visitors, and in turn degrade one of the city’s greatest landmarks. At press time, neither CIM nor Extell had responded to a request for comment.

He feels that the city is left “vulnerable to really damaging the health of parks if they’re cut off from sun light.”
“This commission would get the city to focus on this,” he said, adding that it can “start possibly exploring ways to mitigate” the dilemma. At this time Levine, has not officially proposed any specific solutions.

Councilman Mark Levine has detailed graphic illustrations which he says show the impact of skyscraper shadows on Central Park.
Councilman Mark Levine has detailed graphic illustrations which he says show the impact of skyscraper shadows on Central Park.

A prominent member of the real estate community who wished to remain anonymous disagrees with Levine’s concerns.

“The fact is, most New Yorkers use the park in and around the summer; spring, summer and fall,” said the source, who doesn’t feel that the buildings are quite tall enough to ruin the park experience during the months that New Yorkers like to spend outside.

“At that point, the sun is high in the sky. These buildings are not going to be casting shadows in the park. In the dead of winter, if there is a shadow in the park I don’t think it’s really going to impact folks all that much.”

Levine understands that regardless of the task force’s effectiveness, developments that have already begun cannot be curtailed, but he is hopeful that future plans will be governed with the restriction of sunlight in mind.

“I think the time to act is now,” Levine said, saying that future blockage can be avoided if the city creates guidelines for upcoming projects.

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