Rumor has it that Central Park will soon be drowned by the giant shadows of skyscrapers full of rich people and their tax havens, thanks to the unrestricted development of residential towers along 57th Street. But it appears at least the entire park won't be shrouded by monoliths to the wealthy—or so says the Real Estate Board that functions as a lobbying arm for this kind of development.
Skinny, glass-walled luxury skyscrapers like One57, 432 Park Avenue, and 217 West 57th Street have been springing up along so-called Billionaire's Row, prompting alarm that the future pincushion skyline will cast mile-deep shadows across the park. The Real Estate Board of New York, however, claims in a new report [pdf] that these concerns are "overblown."
"The five so-called 'supertall' buildings adjacent to the Park account for an infinitesimal percentage of the over 4,000 buildings within a two-block radius of the Park—a quarter of which are overbuilt and nearly 70% of which are restricted from redevelopment by landmarks designation," the report reads, adding that "the Central Park Conservancy, a valuable steward of the park, has stated that the shadows have not significantly impacted the horticulture or experience of the park."
REBNY worked with a number of experts, including an architect, urban planner, and environmental scientist, to come to this conclusion, though it's hard to take the word of a group specifically formed to lobby for policies that help the real estate industry—policies, for instance, that contribute to the no-holds-barred development in Midtown—as gospel.
Activists who have opposed the development and its impact on Central Park are not assuaged by REBNY's report. Layla Law-Gisiko, Chair of the Central Park Sunshine Task Force of Community Board 5, told us, "The current zoning in no way addresses the cumulative impact of shadows onto our open space. The overdevelopment along Central Park South will have a tremendous detrimental impact regardless of the slenderness of each individual building."