LESPI’s opposition to proposal to remove New York’s Floor Area Ratio cap

March 30, 2023

The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NY State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Re: Opposition to proposal to remove New York’s Floor Area Ratio cap

Dear Governor Hochul:

I’m writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – LESPI – to strongly oppose your proposal to remove the existing state-wide Floor Area Ratio cap, as potentially part of the budget that is now before the state legislature. 

If enacted, this proposal would encourage super tall – or taller – buildings throughout New York City. It will encourage more of the type of huge demolition and construction projects that are making our city unlivable by stealing our light and air, making our streets into massive wind tunnels, and destroying our historic buildings and neighborhoods.

Arguments that new hi-rise luxury apartment construction will somehow make our city more affordable are countered by the evidence: our recent construction boom has served to displace existing lower income residents and mom-and-pop businesses to make way for more wildly expensive housing, absentee owner pied-a-terres, and empty-apartment LLC investments, as well as luxury retail and chain stores. These are all hallmarks of gentrification. Other cities such as Austin and Houston Texas that do not bother with zoning controls are seeing astronomical price increases along with cities that do. Trickle-down luxury construction is not solving our affordability problems.

LESPI supports building smart affordable housing that respects the surrounding neighborhood and current residents, respects our historic buildings and streetscapes, and adheres to a sensible and sensitive approach to urban planning.

LESPI has long advocated for the Lower East Side, a culturally rich historic area that for 200 years has been and remains perhaps the most important nexus of immigration into this country. The area is already scarred by a growing number of out-of-scale towers. It’s especially threatened by this proposal, which would increase development pressure on the streetscapes that give the Lower East Side its historical resonance and distinctive neighborhood charm, which are greatly appreciated by New Yorkers and countless others. Thank you for your consideration.


Richard D. Moses

Cc: The Honorable Brad Hoylman, New York State Senate
The Honorable Brian Kavanagh, New York State Senate
The Honorable Harvey Epstein, New York State Assembly
The Honorable Deborah Glick, New York State Assembly
The Honorable Grace Lee, New York State Assembly