Supreme Court of the State of New York
Appellate Division, First Judicial Department
rules against the community on 50 West 66th.
The brief decision is HERE. The court upheld the May 6, 2021 decision by Justice Rakower.
LW! has been following the development of 50 West 66th Street since an August 2014 report in The Real Deal. Based on our past research, we knew large development was possible but expected the Lincoln Square Special District (LSSD) provisions to protect us from the creep of Billionaire’s Row. In the ensuing years, an initial filing for a modest structure grew from 25-stories and 291-feet to today’s 39-stories, and 775-feet through generous mechanical spaces and a design with a mere 40% of the usable space above the 150-foot base.
This proceeded as-of-right, with zero community input. Once realized, it will stand taller than any building on the island of Manhattan north of Central Park South.
In deference to the intent of the LSSD which envisioned buildings of mid-twenty to thirty-two stories in height, (not 39!), this building was approved, and LW! challenged it at the Department of Buildings, at the Board of Standards and Appeals, in an Article 78 and at the Supreme Court.
We lost on a 2-2 tie, for not having a majority. (Full Background)
Several have suggested, that we’ve lost the battle & won the war.
Nothing like 50 West 66th Street can be permitted again under the new rules created in response to this project. That is good news for the Upper West Side, and the City at large.
The egregious 17, 18 & 19th floors combine to rise approx. 167-feet, (or the height of an NYU dormitory). If filed today, the mechanical floors could each rise 25-feet and only repeat after another 75-feet of floor area. That is progress.
Unfortunately, the neighbors, Central Park, and the skyline will pay for that progress.
Several have suggested that we are impeding housing.
This structure will house just 127 apartments across 548,535 square feet, in the second densest neighborhood in America. Initial unpublished pre-listings price this tower competitively with Central Park South towers. (which are half full)
Several have suggested that this is a whole lot of nothing.
Over 37% of the rise of this building is purely mechanical write-offs, or as some put it; “nothing”. The rules are clear, that developers are to calculate the minimum deduction, and that was not the case at 50 West 66th Street. It evaded every city and state check-and-balance in place.
LW! serves the entire Upper West Side. There are individual landmarks in peril, and landmark-worthy structures in the neighborhood are being lost as you read this. We set our priorities based on need and your support.
The same developer now controls an even larger block due north–the current home to the Walt Disney Corporation/ABC. Thanks to our work on 50 West 66th Street, there are already greater limitations in place.
But we know what we are up against. Billionaire’s Row began in public filings in 2005. The City is just catching up in terms of regulation. Let’s not wait any longer.