In the Zoning
The Commercial Observer: How have all the zoning changes over the last eight years impacted business?
Mr. Lindenbaum: As an applicant, for some of them, it’s obviously helped my business and even where we weren’t the applicants—but the city initiated proposals—we represented people in the areas proposed to be rezoned and had an input on behalf of those people. So, in that sense, the zoning changes have helped my business. Now, many zoning changes are floor-area neutral. That’s to say, they raised the floor area in one part of the rezoned area but they lowered it in another part, primarily in the mid-blocks. That can have a plus or minus effect depending on whom you’re representing.
Do you agree with the city’s zoning changes?
You’re talking about close to 100 neighborhoods!
Are there any that you consider to be ill-advised?
I wouldn’t say they weren’t intelligent. But what I would say is that there are some instances in which the city could’ve been a little more generous in some of its floor area allocations. In other words, the city could’ve allowed a somewhat higher density in some of the neighborhoods that they rezoned.
Any neighborhood in particular?
I could say West Chelsea. I could say possibly in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Those are the ones that come to mind immediately.
You’re about to be honored by REBNY with the Harry Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker award. What makes you a distinguished New Yorker?
[laughs] I guess I’ve been around long enough. No, I think that it’s been my privilege to have the opportunity to counsel major developers and major cultural institutions for almost 50 years now. And, I think, in the course of that time, we’ve preserved the best of the old, we’ve created the best of the new and we’ve established a skyline that is second to none in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of all that and in my own small way be involved in not only creating the physical face of New York but also in contributing to the cultural life of the city.