LANDMARK WEST! has been pushing back against exploitative development at 50 West 66th Street for five years. A decision on its legality comes Tuesday, January 28th at the Board of Standards and Appeals.
Unlike the developer, who submitted plans for a 249-foot bait-and-switch building and secretly designed a 775-foot supertall tower, LW! has been transparent in its arguments against the building’s abuse of mechanical space allowances, dependence on zoning resolution loopholes, and filings that obscured just how they came up with their ridiculous FAR calculations. You can find all our relevant documents here, as well as the bigger picture of these manipulations’ impact on not only our neighborhood, but the entire city.
Limited by the BSA to arguing the lateral spacing of equipment on mechanical floors (not the height!) in this last legal round, we’ve clearly shown how the mechanical space deduction is a farce.
Plans of the 17th floor (just one of four ludicrously over-sized mechanical floors that add nearly 200 unnecessary feet of vertical rise!) show an 864-square foot room with 64-foot ceilings that contains a mere 6 square feet of mechanical equipment. They are essentially using all the space of a 1-BR apartment–with 64-foot ceilings–to house…a refrigerator. 99% of the space in that room is NOTHING, but it is fully deducted! Above this useless space, luxury reigns. Raise the apartment, raise the views, raise the asking price. Go figure.
The developer has used every trick to design 50 W. 66th to within ONE FOOT of its maximum allowable FAR. They’ve gotten to this height through land grabs like these excessive mechanical void floors. If the BSA Commissioners agree that these are obviously an unjustified FAR deduction, this would invalidate the permits.
We only need the BSA to agree with us that there is more than that one foot…more than 144 square inches of excess, less than the size of a laptop, to force a redesign back to a responsibly-sized building for this residential neighborhood.
Fifteen months ago, the Department of Buildings denied our September 2018 Challenge of the mechanicals, only to go on record in December 2019 that they never even reviewed the mechanical drawings in question.
And while City Planning has changed the Zoning Resolution in direct response to this bait-and-switch building, months later, this development, still just a hole in the ground–claims it is “vested” and shouldn’t have to change a thing.
Even the developer, Gary Barnett, acknowledged in The New York Times that there is an over-abundance of luxury condos exactly like those he is trying to build at 50 W. 66th Street:
“You never had this kind of supply in these price ranges,” said Gary Barnett, the president and founder of Extell Development, which has built some of the priciest condos of the decade…
“The $5 million to $10 million market is hammered – there’s way too much of it,” he said, leading most developers to pump the brakes on new residential plans, until the current supply is sold.
Extell knows the market they are targeting is saturated, yet they obstinately continue to push for 50 W. 66th Street. Through a series of manipulations, Extell still seeks to construct the tallest residential building on the island of Manhattan north of the Time Warner Center in the very Manhattan neighborhood that has seen the most new luxury condos constructed in the last decade. According to The Atlantic, more than half of the units coming online in the past five years–a six year supply–remain uninhabited and unsold.
The UWS awaits their decision: either for a building that has twisted rules to build too high for a market that doesn’t exist or a rational development that responsibly aligns with the Zoning Resolution.
Will rational thought rule the day, or will it be bad business as usual?
SEE YOU ON TUESDAY January 28th!
There will be no public testimony–but a strong community presence will show the BSA that we expect them to uphold their commitment to the people of NYC, and do their jobs fairly, rationally, and without prejudice.
Come out to 22 Reade Street at 10 am