3/15 UPDATE! State Supreme Court vacates and annuls Board of Standards and Appeals prior ruling as unreasonable and inconsistent with the plain reading of the Zoning Resolution and sends the building permit for 200 Amsterdam Avenue back to the BSA for review.
READ the full press release by the Municipal Art Society and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, the plaintiffs who challenged the project. Read the court’s 200-Amsterdam-Decision_14March2019.
Background: Gerrymandered Lot Leads to Tallest Building North of 59th Street in All of Manhattan
While there may be two sides to every story, there are seldom 39 sides to a zoning lot!
200 Amsterdam Avenue is a unique development scenario. Developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America are proposing a 52-story residential development of 668 feet–the equivalent of a 66-story midtown office tower–at the intersection of Amsterdam Avenue and 69th Street. The site was formerly home to the Lincoln Square Synagogue, which relocated further south in a land swap. Availing themselves of the mid-century urban renewal superblock site, the developers have gerrymandered a zoning lot across several tax lots to assemble enough FAR to create what would be not only the tallest building in the neighborhood, but also the tallest building north of 59th street on the island of Manhattan. Despite a Zoning Challenge and an appeal to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), construction work continues.
Since initially granting this building a permit, the Department of Buildings (DOB) has revised their protocol, issuing a statement that this lot and building height should have not been allowed. (See graphic at left showing the red-outline of the gerrymandered lot, cobbled together from portions of tax lots, that supposedly supports the small blue building lot). The DOB has also prepared a bulletin to clarify zoning intent so that this never happens again.
All of this notwithstanding, the DOB does not want to revoke the building permit, leaving the community on the hook for this monstrously tall building. The BSA has the authority to overturn this decision and instruct the DOB to revoke the permit. Take a look at some key words from BSA Commissioner Dara Ottley-Brown queued up here by clicking the play button:
Per Commissioner Dara Ottley-Brown in questioning DOB counsel Michael Zoltan:
…but isn’t that the equivalent of situations where Department of Buildings has a practice- ongoing- does not hold that practice, and then the BSA says that this is the wrong interpretation and DOB must stop. It is a similar situation, in that DOB, up until the BSA ruling, is still practicing according to its current interpretation. So why is this different?
A follow-up hearing of the BSA was scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, 2018. At that hearing, further testimony was given, and the hearing was closed. Lawyers for the Appellant, the Developer, the Department of Buildings and a representative for 170 West End Avenue now have until June 24th to submit up to 6 additional pages of documentation. The next (and presumed decision) hearing of the BSA on this item was scheduled for Tuesday, July 17, 2018. As planned, the vote took place. In a vote of 3 to 1, the BSA sided with the developer and denied the community’s appeal.
Previously, Council Member Helen Rosenthal organized 27 of the 51 City Council Members to close a loophole by asking the BSA to refuse to allow gerrymandered lots. Read the full letter to see if your CM signed on!
Read through our blog updates below for more history on this critical zoning matter.
LW! has secured a $5,000 challenge grant to help bring community legal counsel on board to fight 200 Amsterdam, which (if built) would be the tallest tower in Manhattan north of 60th Street. Matching funds are needed by May 25! Please help! SUPPORT this effort with...read more
THE PROBLEM Towers soaring to 600 feet and more are creeping beyond Midtown Manhattan into residential neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, threatening the balance between preservation and development that makes communities like ours so beautiful, livable, and...read more
Hundreds of Upper West Siders flocked to a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, May 3, to learn about plans to develop the tallest building in Manhattan north of 60th Street - right here on the Upper West Side - at 200 Amsterdam Avenue. Zoning consultant George Janes...read more
On April 19, 2017 – the 52nd anniversary to the day of the official signing of New York’s pioneering Landmarks Law of 1965 – LW! President Kate Wood gave a talk to nearly 200 members of the National Arts Club and guests on the past, present, and future of landmarks...read more
Rare tower set to rise on Upper West Side: Developers of 200 Amsterdam Ave. stitched together far-flung parcels to add air rights Joe Anuta City zoning restrictions make it extremely difficult to build high-rise apartment towers on the Upper West Side. But with some...read more
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