Jacob Frydman – On the History of Zoning in New York City

As the state first in the country to enact zoning laws, New York City set a precedence for protecting property values, reducing congestion and making businesses more productive and safe. The Big Apple was proactive when it came to implementing rules and regulations for building restrictions, adjusting the accepted methods to prevent future degradation caused by poor planning. Native to New York, Jacob Frydman is an expert in current real estate, and appreciates the steps taken by predecessors to protect architectural integrity and urban development.

What might have initiated the need for zoning regulation in New York, may have been the enormous Equitable Building, a 40-story apartment building capable of housing 16,000. This massive structure was built on an entire city block and diminished the availability of sunshine to residents in the area. The large number of people using the building caused heavy traffic and other difficulties. Consequently, the mayor, John Purroy Mitchel along with a committee of members commissioned laws that would eventually be issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce as The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act in 1924. This standard was accepted nationwide without changes.

Jacob Frydman notes that the history of zoning laws in New York is more complex than just one building. In the early 1900’s, the city was experiencing major growth. A speculative boom along the route of the new privately built subway was producing issues of congestion, blocking light and air and causing serious fire and safety hazards. A Manhattan politician, George McAneny wrote in 1913; “The time has come when efforts should be made to regulate the height, size and arrangement of buildings.” From there, a committee established the 1916 Zoning Resolution that put in place strict criteria with a height requirement that could not exceed the width of the road in front of the structure. The law also made clear distinction of specific areas to prevent factories and industry from encroaching upon retail districts. The initial laws remained unchanged until 1961 when additions were made to adjust for current conditions. The results are staggering. In 1910, the population of Manhattan was more than 2.3 million people, by 2010 that number was reduced to less than 1.6 million, the subsequent deduction is directly related to the zoning resolution.

With over 30 years of experience managing complex real estate transactions, Jacob Frydman has extensive knowledge of commercial, residential and mixed property in New York. Currently Chief Investment Officer of the Trust, First Capital Real Estate Trust, he held the position of CEO prior to his retirement in September 2015. During his career, he has developed over five million square feet of asset transactions and has managed investments valued at over $2 billion. As a recognized leader in his field, Mr. Frydman is often invited to participate as a speaker or panelist in regards to real estate finance. A passionate philanthropist, he is passionate about serving the Jewish community and provides financial assistance to many charities including; The Brem Foundation, The Rhinebeck Jewish Center, and the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education’s (NCFJE).

 


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