CONTROVERSIAL DEVELOPMENT GETS PERMITS APPROVED JUST BEFORE RECEIVING HISTORIC STATUS

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Talk about getting it in under the wire!

A controversial proposed development at 711 West End Avenue received building permits just before the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to include it in a new historic district, a blow to opponents who had been trying to scuttle the project. The most recent design we’ve seen shows that the developers want to place a new building as high as ten stories on top of an existing seven-story rental building.

Complaints about the proposed building vary — some, including Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, consider the new development a modern eyesore on an historic block. Parents at nearby PS 75 have said the new development will cause more traffic problems at an already dicey corner. Tenants in the building are split on whether they’ll receive any benefits for what could be years of disruption.

Late last year, Rosenthal had urged the LPC to speed up the historic designation meeting to keep this building from getting built. Since then, the building had been denied building permits on multiple occasions. When the LPC hearing was announced, it looked like the developers might lose their chance to resubmit the permit applications.

But it looks like they made just in time. In fact, some of the building permits for the building at 95th street and West End were issued on the exact same day as the landmark hearing. If the building had received historic designation prior to the permits being issued, the project would likely have been slowed or stopped. As it is now, it’s not clear whether opponents will be able to stop the project. A website put up by opponents, including parents at nearby PS 75, indicated that confusion: “Although some permits were apparently approved yesterday (just in time to avoid being subject to the LPC’s ruling) it’s not clear which ones, and what the developers’ claims will be to push forward as-of-right construction.”

The new development has a somewhat unorthodox design, according to the most recent plans we’ve seen. The developers want to place the new building on top of the current building, but they told tenants it won’t be supported by the current building, because they’re installing “a separate structure of steel columns and beams placed around the exterior of 711 West End Avenue.” The permits say that the new development will have nine stories, with terraces on the roof, and 55 total apartments.

The renderings below are the most recent ones we’ve seen. The developers and architects have not responded to our requests for more information.

711 wea3

HISTORY, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 63 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      saw it coming

      I’m shocked, i tell you, shocked!

    2. Ardenite says:

      Say what you will about the virtues of this particular development, the fact that the extant building would even be included in a historical district is a joke. The Upper West Side is filled with some of the most beautiful pre-war architecture. This mid-century brick box, however, is an eyesore.

      • dannyboy says:

        so let’s just fix them with more congestion.

      • Jeremy says:

        It’s really a bastardization of the intent of the law, Ardenite. Instead of preserving historic buildings, people like Helen Rosenthal are just looking to thwart improvements in our neighborhood. Crazy.

      • Emmaia Gelman says:

        Landmarking doesn’t mean a building can’t be altered. It means that the integrity of the neighborhood is a consideration that developers have to account for.

        It’s a shame that we have to resort to landmarking for that, but there’s just no city policy that holds developers accountable for destroying affordable housing or neighborhood institutions. While Vision Zero requires *six* city agencies to collaborate on something as straightforward as street safety, DOB is left to hand out construction permits all on its own.

        Change is fine, but change that “as-of-right” can destroy a long-standing mixed-income neighborhood and replace it with a rich neighborhood is not. The Tenant Protection Plan (which is all developers have to account for in their plans) is the right idea — unfortunately, it doesn’t address much of the impact of construction. We need DOB to require a Community Protection Plan for big construction projects that fundamentally alter a neighborhood and create years of intensive disruption in the process.

        • Nathan says:

          No, we don’t need more useless red tape. These sorts of “protections” are exactly why housing is so expensive: We can’t build enough to meet demand.

          • Emmaia Gelman says:

            There is SO MUCH vacant luxury housing in this city! The idea that we’re not meeting demand is a real estate red herring. We’re not meeting demand for affordable housing — and this kind of development is part of the problem, not the solution.

            • Nathan says:

              The reason there’s so much demand for “affordable” housing is because it’s underpriced. It’s artificially cheaper than the market rate. Anyone with an understanding of economics knows that means there will be shortages. The very fact that rent regulations exist ensures there will always be a manufactured housing crisis.

            • dannyboy says:

              Nathan,

              you got that free-market economics going.

              now, try to include humans into your perspective

          • dannyboy says:

            ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ red tape tellin’ developers to consider the integrity of the neighborhood.

            If they want some consideration, lettem’ to get some money!’

    3. Wombat250 says:

      Something fishy for sure is happening based on the timing. However , I will say I like the look of the place. Seems like a nice addition to a rather bleak exisiting structure.

    4. Paul RL says:

      There is nothing historic or beautiful about the existing building, and the new structure will displace no one. In my opinion (as if you didn’t know) it’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood!

      • dannyboy says:

        …and blocking the sun and air to neighbors is just the cherry on top!

      • Neighbor says:

        Paul RL as usual you are on the mark. The building is handsome. Yes construction is an inconvenience-it sucks, but it is something that I am OK to deal with because this project adds value to my experience, my community and my apartment in the immediate neighborhood all day long.

        • dannyboy says:

          glad you’re OK with it…

          …after all it adds value to your apartment

          (little transparent, dont ya’ think?)

      • Neighbor says:

        Well, Paul,it already has displaced people. People have moved because of this. Also apartments are being warehoused. This may be legal but i’s not right. If you want to build on top of peoples heads, then love us out for 2 years and hen back in.

    5. Harriet says:

      The building under discussion does not deserve to be landmarked. The modern addition looks like a distinct improvement. Anyone who does not want their children to experience construction noise and dirt should move out of NY RIGHT NOW. The nicest thing about NY is that it is constantly evolving and changing. Never ‘finished.’

      • dannyboy says:

        f the children, there’s Money to be made here!

      • Jeremy says:

        Right on, Harriet. If anything, we would be better served as neighbors to *hide* that ugly original building. Nothing wrong with fixing prior builders’ mistakes.

      • Tom D says:

        Exactly right. If this ugly box got landmark status, everything on the UWS should have it. Sorry for the disruption to the kids, but if the parents don’t want their kids lives to be disrupted by construction, they might want to seriously consider the suburbs.

        • dannyboy says:

          f the schoolchildren, i want to hide a building. Then why didn’t YOU move to the suburbs?

    6. Nj says:

      The sad thing is that no one cares or is paying attention to the quality of life anymore. The people who live in the high towers don’t have noise or care about the air flow and air quality that diminishes with construction.

    7. Lizzie says:

      I think this design is pure, contemporary, classy and a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and I look forward to seeing something so cool go up in the upper West Side!
      And yes, to those who take ownership of NYC and do not like the noise and congestion, move to the suburbs where you will be happier. Cities are meant to continue to evolve as the writer below commented, and that means higher property values for everyone who lives in the neighborhood, including myself. I welcome the change which will help to camoflage the existing horrendous, dark eyesore that should have been torn down years ago. New, elegant architecture to distract us is the perfect answer to this otherwise dismal building and eyesore to West End Avenue.

      • dannyboy says:

        a little transparent with that:

        “that means higher property values for everyone who lives in the neighborhood, including myself.

        • LK says:

          Hey dannyboy, you corrected everyone on this thread asking for transparency. What’s your agenda? Landmarking the building in question is the same as calling Chevy Citation a classic car. Are there issues that construction brings? Sure. But what exactly does it have to do with landmarking?

          • dannyboy says:

            i’m the guy without the agenda.

            i know that’s a little different than the wealth-seeking, at your neighbor’s expense commentor.

    8. 95 in Shade says:

      A question. The location of this building is always given here as West End Ave & 95th. But this building spans the entire block of WEA from 94th to 95th. Are they talking about adding these floors just to the 95th St. wing, or to the whole structure (which would presumably involve disrupting the entire block of WEA as well)?

      • Jeremy says:

        It’ll reach from 94th to 95th. Not sure what specific types of “disruption” you’re concerned about, but I’m sure they can do all of this construction without interrupting pedestrian flow on WEA. Since the new construction will be stacked on top of the old building, I don’t think the WEA street-level experience will look all that different than it does now.

        • dannyboy says:

          “I’m sure they can do all of this construction without interrupting pedestrian flow on WEA. Since the new construction will be stacked on top of the old building, I don’t think the WEA street-level experience will look all that different than it does now.”

          What!!!!!!!!!!!!

          using helicopeters? new construction technique

        • dannyboy says:

          Jeremy – “I don’t think the WEA street-level experience will look all that different than it does now.”

          Get outside much? Ever notice how the Tall (that means high) buildings cast a shadow rather than allow sun to fall on people?

          Ever notice how the Tall (you know what that means, now) buildings block the airflow on people.

          Ever think of people?

          What’s your opinion of them?

          Is money more important than them?

    9. Anne says:

      I hadn’t heard about this development. I like the design of it though and find the mix of contemporary and and a very bland “historic” building a plus for the neighborhood. (How would that building get Landmark Status anyway?? I thought Landmark status was intended for historically and architecturally significant building.)

    10. denton says:

      I want the name and contact information of their expediter. lol.

      • dannyboy says:

        bring a bag of money

      • Drew Kopf says:

        The Metro Theater on Broadway in the 100s was apparently landmarked, but only the facade, so the owners apparently demolished the interior. Beauty is only skin deep. Is that what landmarking is supposed to accomplish? Seems like the whole process needs to be reviewed.

        • Harriet says:

          There are landmarked exteriors AND landmarked interiors. For example, the Beacon Theater is landmarked on the inside…which it well deserves. The exterior is nothing special and has had the modern marquee added to it in recent years. But, the interior, that’s really something special.

    11. bravo soldier says:

      That corner is one of the ugliest on the UWS. If that is a landmark, then what isn’t?
      Rosenthal is an example of why I don’t support any aspiring politician: they just want in, that’s all. People with no transferable skills. “Fighting” for … whatever. Fighting with whom? With themselves, supposedly.
      They should be fighting for logic and fight to GET RID OD rent control, so everyone would be paying the median, not some paying nothing and making others pay through the nose.

      • dannyboy says:

        you pay with your nose?

        money comes out?

        wowee

        • Jay says:

          Danny,

          Relax. It’s not the end of the world.

          • dannyboy says:

            not even the beginning of the end, dya’ think?

            Oh well, I guess I’ll just go back to minding my own business and not challenge anything…

            …’cause nothing is the end of the world, you know.

    12. mel stone says:

      A lot of money paid by GREEDY developers. What happened to affordable housing in the city Mayor DeBlasio????

    13. Ann says:

      I hope they use modular construction – some great, green prefab design that will shorten all the on-site construction noise, danger & obstruction.

    14. Bill says:

      We as a neighborhood lack unity and organization. No matter how much time we spend in court. Money talks and these things will keep happening. How much money was spent fighting the shelters? What happened after? We need to get out there and stand in front of bulldozers and demand accountability for these idiotic ideas. The city is paying $3,000 per person a month for the shelter on 95th. These same people can be housed for less then half that somewhere else. I have nothing against the homeless, had they received 24 hour supervision: we wouldnt have a quarter of the problems we have.

    15. lisa says:

      Would agree that 711 WEA is not a beauty – but increased development in an already congested traffic area is a disaster.

      Construction, development and more people will further strain West End Avenue traffic, 96th Street traffic, West Side Highway and 96th Street subway. This is not beneficial to the neighborhood.

      The building should be left alone.

      • Jay says:

        I’m not exactly sure where would be a good place for this development, if the proposed location isn’t sufficient…

        The subway stations can easily absorb an extra 100 people and with the West Side Highway right there, people who are driving will use the highway instead of local roads to get places.

        People bemoan the cost of living housing, but don’t want to do anything about it.

        Can any of the NIMBYs explain where things are supposed to get built on the UWS? I think I already know the answer that will be given…

    16. 24gotham says:

      Construction is an inevitable. While is it important to preserve quality of life and fine architecture, we shouldn’t live in a museum. The purpose of historic districts is to maintain characteristics that make it what it is, but that doesn’t mean that new things shouldn’t be added.

      Cities change and evolve, that is how it has always been and how it will always be. Let’s not forget that West End Avenue was once lined with single family townhouses, the majority of which were torn down to build large apartment houses before nearly all of us were born. Yet the neighborhood thrived. Go figure?

      Density is what gives a city life, if you don’t like density, then perhaps you should try Phoenix where you are welcome to die of boredom.

      Me, I’ll take Manhattan any day over anywhere else in North America.

      • dannyboy says:

        If you don’t like differing opinions “then perhaps you should try Phoenix where you are welcome to die of boredom.”

        DON”T TELL ME WHERE TO LIVE

    17. Population density and aging infrastructure of an entire district will not be fixed by stopping occasional construction projects. High density actually works for the UWS and a few new large buildings can be absorbed. We should be focusing our efforts on solving the urgent community issues that may require lots of time and mega dollar projects to fix.

      • dannyboy says:

        mohr density! mohr! mohr is better!

        Mohr condos! mohr! mohr condos is better!

        Mohr coops! mohr! mohr coops is better!

        less underclass! less! less!

        • mohr of what the UWS wants:
          mohr condos and coop investments
          mohr expensive single family homes
          mohr boutique stops
          mohr high priced restaurants
          mohr outdoor cafes
          mohr expensive supermarkets
          mohr places to park their cars
          mohr doormen
          mohr sanitized streets
          mohr illusions of expensive lifestyles
          mohr uniformity

    18. Liz says:

      It makes no sense to me why the building was allowed to slip in under the wire (I am talking about process, not this actual building’s design.). Our building is in the district, & was not landmarked until a few days ago. Yet, the DOB would not approve our major repair two years ago until Landmarks signed off (saying it was because we were calendared.) And Landmarks made us make expensive changes. I know of at least one other building that had the same experience. So why was this building not subject to Landmarks’ approval and we were?

    19. mark sparrow says:

      I live across the street and the new proposed building will block any sky or light I see. A total negative impact on the quality of life we have on west end. And the area is already dense. We don’t need more cars and people in the neighborhood.

    20. Craig Heard says:

      What an ugly mismatched combination! They should name it The Frankenstein.

    21. Cs says:

      West Side Rag:
      Would it be possible to get more information about apartment warehousing referenced in comments?

    22. Willp says:

      Although any construction is painful for a short time, it looks to me like it would be a big improvement to what’s there now.

    23. Jeff says:

      Progress is one thing, but building on top of people is scary. Those who welcome this project going up: tell me how would you like it if you were living underneath it.

    24. Local says:

      The debate isnt about the visual, that’s a distrrcation. The issue is , should major construction be allowed on top of an occupied building? This building is full of average middle class people, teachers, retirees, invalids, musician,s businessmen, etc. The new building will not alleviate any housing shortage. In fact, it make make it worse. 6 apartments were emptied to be used for the new building, 26 apartments are off the rent roll as another 20 are being warehoused.
      And, the lovely developer Paul Boardman used coded language in a meeting (these people) about the shelters down the block to say, well we’re gonna make it better (by putting wealthy people here). Would you like to live in a construction zone for 2 years? They have the legal right (it seems) but it’s not right. The law ought to be, if you do a project like this, you have to give the existing tenants a place to live at the same rate for as long as the construction is going on and they must be allowed back in their previous apartments at the same exact rate when the construction is done.