What’s Up With NYC’s Supertall Skyscrapers

Is the end in sight for the supertall building boom that is transforming the NYC skyline?


Steinway Tower at 111 W 57th Street will be the skinniest supertall


What is a supertall?
The NYC skyline has changed markedly in the past few years, most notably by the supertall skyscrapers that have been popping up. To qualify as a supertall, a building must reach over 984 feet high. Besides The Chrysler Building and The Empire State Building, which both qualify, 5 more have been completed so far, including One WTC, The Bank of America Building, The New York Times Building, 432 Park Ave., and One57.


Luxury residential tower 432 Park Ave pierces the midtown sky


 Super Skinny
432 Park Ave. and One57 are examples of the super skinny supertall residential trend. While zoning regulations restrict the square feet of a building, they don’t currently restrict the height. Developers can charge a huge premium for the exclusivity of the panoramic views afforded by this type of construction. The ultra high-end luxury residential buildings just south of Central Park that have commanded record-setting prices of up to $11,000/square foot, have fallen off of late – One57 had 2 foreclosures recently.


More supertalls on the horizon
9 more supertalls are currently under construction in Manhattan. One Vanderbilt at Grand Central will be a 1,401 feet office tower with a public observation deck. 111 West 57 will sit atop the beautifully restored Steinway Building and will have the distinction of being the skinniest supertall, narrowing as it rises until it seemingly disappears into the sky at 1,421 feet. There are also 8 proposed developments including Brooklyn’s first supertall at 9 DeKalb Ave., and yet another ultra luxury residential building at The Helmsley Park Lane on Central Park South, which faltered with the luxury condo market, but may be back on track now. Of the many buildings that will make up the Hudson Yards development, 5 will be supertalls, while only 3 of the World Trade Center buildings will qualify.


Construction underway at Hudson Yards will include 5 supertalls


Proposed 9 DeKalb Ave. in Downtown will be Brooklyn’s first supertall


Taking it down a notch…
Preservation-minded New Yorkers have become concerned with the effect that supertall buildings have on light, air, parks, and other public assets. The Municipal Arts Society and many elected officials are supporting demands by some local Community Boards to put a cap on building heights and change the approvals process to require community input and public review as opposed to ‘as of right’ on any building that would significantly increase height or bulk on a given lot. Caps of between 260-600 feet have been proposed in various neighborhoods.


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