From the Huffington Post:
...the skyline of New York City is ever-changing, and as generations of New Yorkers know, your view lasts as long as the owner of the lot next door allows. Property owners can build as of right on their land, consistent with zoning codes and city regulations.
In this case, however, the proposed tower was far outside the zoning codes, and required five separate changes in the law to give the developer the height and bulk of the building that he wanted to erect. That is why the Community Board and the City Council were involved under the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (sometimes affectionately called ULURP).
If it is built, the proposed Penn Tower would have 56% more bulk than the zoning code would have permitted without discretionary bonuses. That comes out to almost a million square feet of additional office space. The variances granted to the developer also eliminate the setback regulations typically required for buildings of this size, thereby aggravating the impact upon the skyline from the perspective of New Jersey. The glare from night lighting of the financial tenants will further impact the view of the iconic Empire State Building from the east.
On this one, the CPC was clearly in the tank, abandoning its customary guardianship and attention to size, taste and design in its eagerness to approve the tower.
We believe that what happened in this case is a textbook example of unsound public policy, favoritism to a particular extremely well-connected developer, and lack of regard for the future of the commercial neighborhood around Penn and Moynihan Stations. To grant a massive upgrade to a property owner with no tenant, no financing and no immediate plans to build is premature and irresponsible. These valuable new rights will be for sale along with the property if the developer is unable or unwilling to build on the site.
This is a case of the city making an extraordinary gift, probably worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to one of its richest and most influential developers. It is a top-down decision, clearly made at City Hall and not by the Planning Commission, which should have been embarrassed at the tricks they had to turn.
You got it! Also, there is a major conflict of interest here because:
Ms. Quinn did not mention that a loophole has allowed Vornado Realty Trust to contribute thousands of dollars to her campaign even though the company, one of the largest real estate investment trusts in the country, has business before the city. Last week, Quinn and the council approved Vornado's controversial 15 Penn Plaza development, despite opposition from Community Board 5. - Crains