Recently, CIVITAS has seen new out-of-context buildings being developed in both C1-9 and C1-9A districts due to a variety of loopholes and interpretations that do not protect residents and their neighborhoods. Many of these loopholes are the result of judgement or interpretations of the code that may vary from the original intent. The only solution that will permanently control the maximum height of buildings is a height cap.

In 2016, CIVITAS retained Buckhurst Fish Jacquemart (BFJ) Planning to develop zoning recommendations that would modify current laws by limiting overall building heights while protecting developers rights to build C1-9 (R-10 equivalent) density. BFJ analyzed the existing zoning code and new buildings that are being developed out of context. They concluded that a new modified C1-9 zoning district (C1-9X) would be the best way to limit overall building heights and therefore protect the character of adjacent mid-block residential neighborhoods.

A C1-9X designation would restrict all new buildings to a maximum 400-foot height limit inclusive of all bonuses, mechanical equipment, and other features. This new zoning designation is being proposed to replace all C1-9 zoning districts in the Upper East Side north of 65th St. This new zoning designation would also be available to other communities across the city that desire to limit overall building heights.

CIVITAS continues to advocate for predictable contextual zoning that supports mixed uses along the avenues and protects the mid-block streets from over-development. This differentiation between zoning districts along the avenues vs streets protects the neighborhood’s historic residential characteristics while allowing neighborhood retail to be located nearby. The proposed C1-9X zoning designation would preserve the neighborhood’s building character and allow for new re-development. A 400-foot height cap in our C1-9X proposal will allow all current development rights to be utilized while placing a limit on the total height of new buildings.

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