Nouvel/MoMA Tower Opponents Target Quinn in TV Ads


It seems opponents of the Jean Nouvel-designed skyscraper planned to rise next to MoMA are well-funded.

The opponents, mostly neighbors of the 1,050-foot tower-to-be, are hitting the airwaves Monday with a television ad that directly targets Council Speaker Christine Quinn, urging her to oppose the development, planned to be built by the Texas firm Hines. The ad buy comes a day before the City Council holds a hearing on the building, which needs Council approval to go forward.

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The building has elicited impassioned reactions from both the architectural community, which generally loves it, and neighbors, who detest it, saying it is grossly out of scale.

“This tower will overwhelm the neighborhood and crowd streets. Christine Quinn: Say no,” the ad says, narrated by a deep voice that seems at home in a negative political ad. “Air rights are sold off and the people are sold out. Christine Quinn: Say no.”

The politics of the tower are slightly more complicated than normal. The Council often defers to the local member on land-use decisions, and, in this case, the local is Ms. Quinn. But the constituents who are most upset and loudest—members of the West 54th – 55th Street Block Association—are in the district of Councilman Dan Garodnick.

Neither Ms. Quinn nor Mr. Garodnick have taken a strong stand either way on the MoMA tower. Last month City Planning Commission chairwoman Amanda Burden took an action that Council members often seek when they’re looking for a compromise: she decreased the height of the tower by 200 feet. (While many in the architectural and development communities have denounced that move, the opponents, who have formed a group called the Coalition for Responsible Midtown Development, called the height chop insignificant, noting the tower would still be as tall as the Chrysler Building.)

A spokesman for Ms. Quinn, Anthony Hogrebe, said in a statement that the Council would be looking for a balance. “As always, the Council will be working to find an appropriate balance, providing for development that addresses the needs of the community,” he said.