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Thread: Need examples - downtown/center city upzonings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Need examples - downtown/center city upzonings

    Hoping to get some ideas and input here. I'm looking for examples (either recent or historical) of center city upzonings in big and world cities.

    1. In those jurisdictions that use FAR or FSI, has anyone ever reached or breached FAR/FSI 25? 30? (other than for districts that have suspended zoning altogether, like the World Trade Center site in NYC)
    2. What are some recent cities that have dramatically increased downtown FARs/FSIs, either for a district or for the entire downtown financial district?
    3. How about dramatic upzonings as result of cities switching to other means of bulk/mass control or that simply eliminated bulk/mass control? Are there any examples?
    4. Are any cities considering center city upzoning but have not yet enacted yet?

    Any examples would be terrific. Thank you!

  2. #2
    The only city in North America with FAR/FSI approaching 30 (!) for new development will be Toronto. Even in New York City, the densities usually top our in the upper teens. This is a very facsinating topic to me, so I'll be interested to hear about other examples. The record holder for Toronto was a downtown site which proposed 40 something. It was denied not on density concerns but on shadowing issues. Toronto's zoning bylaws are somewhat inconsistent with the official plan (comp plan). The zoning map usually maxes out at 12 FAR. But developers have been routinely applying for site specific amendments and getting much higher densities, partly because the 1986 zoning is so outdated.

    The other reason is that the perceived negatives about building at such densities have not been realized. I would argue that the higher densities allowed has had a positive impact on the city. I read a study recently that a third of the downtown populations walks to work. When including biking and transit, it was over 2/3rds.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by OfficialPlanner View post
    The only city in North America with FAR/FSI approaching 30 (!).
    Thanks! That's exactly what I wanted to know. You wouldn't know the highest approved in Toronto by site specific amendment, would you? San Diego upzoned its financial district from 12 to 20 in 2006 through approval of two forms of TDRs. NYC's current cap with two forms of cumulative TDRs (and all other bonuses piled on) is 21.6 I believe. I'm very keen to see any cases of 20 or higher.. especially if it was arrived at by recent changes.

  4. #4
    No problem! I have a list of them with accompanying planning reports explaining the rational for approval. I'll post them tomorrow.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Also.. is it true that Chicago Central Core has no effective maximum bonusable FAR?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    New York's highest FAR is 15. But I'm pretty sure that can be adjusted by included certain site amenities.

    Here's what I could find
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/zone...les.pdf#page=5

    I can't imagine a 30 in Downtown San Diego. That would mean 60-75 story facilities. The highest I can think of right now is about 40...The Electra Building or Maybe Symphony Towers...

    Had to look it up.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...s_in_San_Diego
    Tallest is America Plaza.


    What's the current FAR Downtown?
    Last edited by Huck; 30 Apr 2012 at 11:24 PM. Reason: had to look up some info.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Huck View post
    I can't imagine a 30 in Downtown San Diego.
    San Diego's highest, in the financial district and another cluster SE of the district is FAR 10 bonusable to FAR 20 per the 2006 upzoning. No way you can do a 30 without impossible lot coverages.. FAA cap.

    My question more relates to an international project I'm working on.. where I'm trying to get a comparable sense of what other cities have done on the high side.

  8. #8
    308 Jarvis 14.69 FSI
    40 Scott 15.3 FSI
    1 York 18 FSI
    501 Yonge 20.5 FSI
    224 King St W 20.78 FSI
    197 Yonge 26.16 FSI
    87 Peter 26.24 FSI
    90 Harbour 26.5 FSI

    And just for fun...

    Refusal of 66 Temperance 39.2 FSI

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    That's awesome. Thanks! Didn't know Toronto posted all of their commission rulings.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    OK.. quick summary of my informal survey:

    - I think Chicago upzoned its base for some areas of the western Loop from from 12 to 16 back in '03 or so. But since that city lets you do every manner of fee incentive bonus imagineable.. including a bunch not tied to the site at all (that city seems to have fee incentive revenue down to an art), there doesn't seem to be a cap there. FAR 20+ buildings seem fairly commonplace. Willis Tower is 37. Trump's building is something like 30.

    - Toronto seems to be migrating (via special permits) toward much higher FSIs than provided for in code (thanks to OfficialPlanner's input), with mid-20s now fairly commonplace and the average keeps on moving up. The driver seems to be residential but there are some major high-FAR office projects in the pipeline (if I'm not mistaken, Oxford's announced project at 100 Adelaide W is something like FSI 33, and that's if they go for the short option of the two they've released renderings for).

    - San Francisco is working on an amendment to replace some FAR caps with absolute height limits in order facilitate the Transbay towers. Height limits of up to 1,000' would imply FARs of up to 33 if that goes through. Other buildings of up to FAR 25 should be supported under the proposed changes. Please let me know if anyone knows the status of these changes.

    - Under the 2006 upzoning, San Diego seems to have two neighborhoods Downtown that are bonusable to FAR 20 and 22 respectively. San Diego also seems to have two massing-limit exempt districts or at least two districts for which I cannot find FAR caps for (Marina and Ballpark).

    - Under the 1998 upzoning and 2006 bonusing changes, Seattle now supports FARs of up to 20. They and Portland seem to have FAR bonuses attributable to Green-building certification, among other things.

    - NYC, outside of special districts like massing-limit-exempt districts WTC, Hudson Yards, etc, has not upzoned and appears to have no commercial zones that exceed base mass/bulk of FAR 15, bonusable up to around 22.

    To my awareness, these are the only first tier (big) North American cities that have zones that support FARs of or in excess of 20.. Some smaller cities do as well, like Oakland, but I haven't looked at those.

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