About 100 activists and community leaders marched through midtown Sunday, in a call for a temporary suspension on the future development of towers on 57th Street. The protesters carried black umbrellas to symbolize deep shadows cast by the “super scrapers.”
A small activist group, “Stand against the Shadows,” organized the march, and called on the city to halt development of buildings that are more 600 feet until infrastructure studies and the input of local communities have been taken into consideration to negate concerns. The protesters began at Columbus Circle with a chant of “stop super scrapers.” They continued across 57th Street, where the towers are popping up and hoisted their black umbrellas through onlooking crowds. “I feel very strongly that all of these towers, designed the way they are, are going to ruin New York City,” said protester Susan Appel, a 75-year-old Upper East Side resident.
Several newly built skyscrapers cast long shadows over southern Central Park, including One57 and the 432 Park Avenue tower. Protesters said the super towers are built with careless or no thought as they obstruct the city’s skyline and block out light into Central Park.
Representatives for One57 and 432 Park Avenue couldn’t be reached for immediate comment.
Aside from the shadows, residents were also angry over the tax breaks that many building developers receive and the inequality that has overtaken the city. One57, for example, will receive property tax exemptions for decades on the condition developersbuild affordable housing units. Activists, however, said the trade-off is moot.
Allen Lieb, a 63-year-old music teacher and violinist from Columbus Circle, said the “affordable units” are out of reach from the middle class, and many super scraper buyers aren’t residing in the neighborhood.
“People that are building these are mostly investment firms or people from outside the country,” he said. “It’s costing our neighborhood and the rest of the city millions of dollars every year.”
Layla Law-Gisiko, a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 5, which encompasses midtown, said the board has already recommended a moratorium, but nothing was done. She said there should be a balance when it came to development
“New York is about good urban planning, it’s not only about tall buildings, it’s about sound development,” she said.
Val Brown, a head organizer said the march was “not anti-development,” rather that the city should rethink its zoning laws.
“The community has no voice on this issue,” she said.