A Floating Highrise? NYC Developers Plan to Build Above an Existing Building

A Floating Highrise? NYC Developers Plan to Build Above an Existing Building

Jennifer Hunter
Aug 17, 2015
A rendering of the proposed new construction at 711 West End Avenue
(Image credit: 711 West End Site)

Rent control laws have always been a thorn in the side of real estate developers who want to replace old, occupied buildings with new construction. So rather than fight that tired fight, Paul Boardman recently proposed a new idea: build above an existing residential building. That's right. Not on top by adding new floors, but actually above it, never touching the original structure at all. This could really happen in NYC and soon.

The project centers around a seven-story residential building at 711 West End Avenue in New York's Upper West Side. Developers wanted to take advantage of this valuable corner in Manhattan, but current laws make it nearly impossible to tear down the building. The 144 rent-stabilized tenants who currently live in the building have a right to stay in their homes — many have lived there for decades — but their homes might soon be under a brand new building.

The plan is this: support columns will be placed around the current structure to hold a steel and concrete platform onto which a new eight-story condominium will be built. To comply with codes, the new building will hover above the roof of the old one but the gap will be covered with a decorative addition. In other words, passersby won't be unnerved by a floating skyscraper. In June, the NYC Department of Buildings approved the plan permits pending sign offs by an additional engineer and the high-rise investigations division.

Clearly the current residents aren't pleased that they will soon be forced to endure a two-year construction zone above their homes. They're attempting to challenge the safety of the plan with their own engineer. The owners of the building claim that the new construction will actually improve life for the current residents in the long run. They cite the benefits of "an elegant new lobby," improved landscaping and improvements to the current building such as better windows and air conditioners. You can read all about the project on the building's website.

So what do you think? Is this a genius use of space or are the current residents of this buildings getting a raw deal?

Get all the rest of the details at the New York Times.

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