The development of Trump World Tower has generated more controversy than most buildings in the city. In 1998, developer Donald Trump announced that he was about to develop the world’s tallest residential tower, on the west side of First Avenue between East 47th and 48th Streets. A variety of individuals and civic groups objected, on the grounds that it was too big, too tall, would block views, and was otherwise out-of-scale with the surrounding neighborhood. Some observed that the tower, at 861 feet in height and 72 floors, would dwarf the venerated Secretariat building of the United Nations complex to the southeast and diminish by comparison its stature on the East River.
Trump was able to develop this building by merging a number of nearby zoning lots containing existing buildings and unused development rights into his zoning lot, thereby producing a total zoning lot of 89,772 square feet. He then concentrated all of the allowable floor area generated by the merged zoning lot onto his original zoning lot abutting First Avenue, producing the substantial size of his residential tower. The residential plaza, whose primary space is located at the northwest corner of First Avenue and East 47th Street, generated only about 40,000 square feet of this 938,000-square-foot building, or less than five percent of its floor area. Under construction at this writing, the building is currently the subject of a legal challenge. Comments on the residential plaza will await its completion.