Supertall Development & Access to Sunlight


A boom in luxury development has heralded the rise of “supertalls,” buildings that are greater than 600 feet in height, along 57th and 58th Streets near Central Park. For example, 432 Park Avenue, completed in 2015, is now the tallest residential tower in the Western hemisphere at 1,396 feet. Several other buildings have either been completed during the last few years or are in development. Cumulatively, these new buildings have already changed the city’s skyline and the long shadows they cast over Central Park have raised concerns about their environmental impact. The shadows block playgrounds, open fields, pathways and vegetation from air and sunlight. CB5’s Central Park Sunshine Task Force was formed to examine this issue and possible solutions to regulate the development of supertalls.


In collaboration with elected officials and other area stakeholders, the Sunshine Task Force conducted research and engaged community members in dialogue about the impact of supertall development on air and sunlight access. The task force issued a report in May 2015 that included several recommendations to improve zoning and planning processes for supertall development. Some of the recommendations included a temporary moratorium of as-of-right supertall development, a rezoning of several blocks in the West 50s and increased transparency of lots assemblage, development rights and condominium ownership.