Senate Bill Resurfaces — Passage Would Allow Taller and Denser Buildings in Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn. Photo by Susan De Vries

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The Historic Districts Council sent out an email Thursday about the resurfacing of a proposed law — now Senate Bill S6760 — that, if passed, would eliminate a cap on the residential floor area ratio (FAR), which has been set at 12 since 1961.

Should the bill be passed, development in some of New York’s highest density areas, including Downtown Brooklyn, would be significantly less restricted, and residential construction would be allowed to be larger. The bill could mean upzoning many areas of New York City, according to critics of the proposal.

Tallest Building Brooklyn 9 DeKalb

The super tall tower planned for 9 Dekalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. Rendering by SHoP

“The City of New York is experiencing a severe shortage of housing at
all income levels,” the sponsor memo says, adding that the city “should have broad flexibility to determine the maximum FAR.” The bill was introduced by the senate’s committee on rules.

Others feel the bill is another example of catering to real estate developers.

“Mayor de Blasio cannot build NYC out of a housing crisis, and the numbers show that what is being built is unattainable for most New Yorkers,” the HDC writes in their email. “This bill will only exacerbate this very real problem.”

REBNY supported the prior legislation and argued it would help increase affordable housing and encourage mixed-income neighborhoods and housing.

A similar proposal in 2015 and 2016 failed to pass. The bill is currently on the floor calendar and was ordered to a third reading on May 8.

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