DEVELOPER BUYS FORMER LINCOLN SQUARE SYNAGOGUE SITE, PLANS 55-STORY TOWER

ls synagogue

A new developer has purchased the property at 200 Amsterdam Avenue that once housed Lincoln Synagogue and has revealed some of its plans for the long-dormant site, according to an article in The Real Deal.

SJP Properties, a New York development firm, has partnered with Japanese firm Mitsui Fudosan American to build a 55-story building with luxury condos on the site.

The condo project between West 69th and West 70th streets, [SJP President Allen] Goldman said, will cater to New Yorkers and families from the suburbs looking to downsize and move into the city. The design, he added, would be “highly contextual with the architecture of the Upper West Side,” and the property boasts protected views of Central Park.

The Real Deal reports that this would be the tallest building in the neighborhood. The site reportedly cost nearly $300 million.

We reported in August about some testing going on at the site.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 90 comments | permalink
    1. Sam says:

      Just what is not needed. Another large residential building in the PS 199 zone.

      • Bryan10024 says:

        @sam What would suggest be put on a parcel of land costing $300 million? A 5 story brownstone? A Red Lobster?

        • Ted says:

          Not a Red Lobster, maybe a Long John Silvers or a Waffle House.

          Actually a little urban planning would be nice. Or we could just overbuild on an unlimited basis and let all of Manhattan have the charm of 40th and 2nd Avenue.

          • Janice says:

            I’m sorry, but our urban zoning and planning has created this nightmare.. If there were restrictions on the size of the project say 30 stories, it would not command $300M dollars !!!.. one follows the other and our infrastructure, transportation and schools will pay the price.. I just don’t understand.

            • Nathan says:

              There are fewer people living in the UWS than there were in the ’60s. Calm down, it’ll be fine.

      • Brad says:

        I’m with Sam. It better be empty-nesters. Even under the new proposed rezoning of the catchments, that spot would be in PS 199’s zone (see http://www.westsiderag.com/2015/09/29/coveted-ps-199-school-zone-would-shrink-dramatically-under-education-department-rezoning-proposal). Unless De Blasio and Farina, if they are around when this gets approval, are willing to make the developers include a school (which would then undermine PS 191), there will be problems.

      • adam says:

        you know what else is not needed? A dilapidated synagogue sitting there empty for years. Better that the land is used than the situation now

      • RSMMathews says:

        Hate to tell you, Sam, but this building is NOT in PS 199 which has just been altered and does not even include the Dorchester across the street whose kids have all be reassigned to 191, the new school far south of here.

      • Walter Jacobsen says:

        Couldn’t agree more. Think the 1 and 2 trains are crowded now? Having a rough time at Fairway? You ain’t seen nothin’
        yet! And how about PS 199? Forget about it. Another lousy idea.

      • Feeling Shorter says:

        At 600 feet will be closer in height to the Time Warner Center (750) than the Aire building (just over 400).

    2. uwsmaven says:

      Could someone please explain to me what is “highly contextual with the architecture of the Upper West Side” about a tower 55 stories high??

      • Joe says:

        Absolutely nothing!

        It’s just pure horseshit from the developer.

        Maybe he (she?) was coached by Gary Barnett of Extell who surely said, “who gives a f— about building anything in context with the surrounding architecture” when he conspired about 10 years ago with “Fat John” Catsimatidis and a corrupt Episcopal priest to put up two of the ugliest buildings north of 59th St.

        I’m referring, of course, about the Ariel condos along Broadway between 99th/100th Streets. The Ariel East has the distinction, at 38 stories, of being the worst eyesore for miles around. Besides, as I witnessed the other day, it’s an easy target for lightning strikes.

        If anyone isn’t familiar with this tragic tale, go to the thread a few days ago about the destruction of the Metro Theater to read more of my comments there.

      • Jeremy says:

        600 feet is only 60 feet more than 15 CPW and pretty much exactly the same size as the building across the street with the firehouse in it.

    3. Sean says:

      Condo means lots of luggage going in and out.

    4. m.pipik says:

      “will cater to New Yorkers and families from the suburbs looking to downsize and move into the city.”

      Haven’t heard something like is before. Does that mean empty-nesters?Sounds as though the apartments will be on the small size.

    5. Jennifer says:

      This is AWFUL! I used to live in the Dorchester, directly across from the synagogue. A 55 story tower? We do not need any more “luxury” buildings, and certainly NO high rises.

      I was complaining to my husband that we will be able to see it from our place on West End and 72. He said our parents will be able to see it from Westchester!

      Booooooo

      • Joe says:

        Should be easy to spot from Westchester.

        Hell, residents of Poughkeepsie can see Gary Barnett’s One57 and when Barnett’s totally obscene 95-story Nordstrom Tower tops out in a year or so, I’ll bet people up in Albany will find it on their Southern horizon.

      • Nathan says:

        Right, because Manhattan—the most dense city in the country—is certainly not an appropriate place to build skyscrapers! We should build them on farms in Vermont instead!

        Seriously, if you don’t like skyscrapers I don’t understand why you’d even choose to live in Manhattan in the first place.

        • Joe says:

          This is NOT about being against skyscrapers. We’ve had plenty of wonderful appropriate skyscrapers in Manhattan for must of the island’s 20th Century history.

          This is about inappropriate skyscrapers in RESIDENTIAL neighborhoods.

          As well as about ultra-tall obscene “needle” towers that block sunlight while serving only to enrich their developers and provide investments for foreign oligarchs!

          • Nathan says:

            Those needle skyscrapers are in midtown, exactly where you said they belong. But now they’re bad because they cast a shadow?

            You’d be opposed to building the Empire State or Chrysler buildings if they were proposed today.

      • anon says:

        Yes, it’s a shame you can see housing from your windows in the most dense city in the country. And the horror of many more people able to obtain housing! How will we all survive this newest influx? Love how liberal New Yorkers berate some European states for not allowing in larger numbers of Syrian refugees yet can’t accept more people moving into their own neighborhood because they will have to see the needed housing from their windows. LOL

    6. jezbel says:

      Jeez, I sure hope the Community Board and building commission hasn’t all ready signed off on this place. The LAST thing we want or need in the crowded neighborhood is a 55 story building. It is the antithesis of the neighbor feeling we have here. I would hate for this to become the upper east side. It’s absolutely appalling that anyone would allow a building that tall to go in here. Especially with the school over-crowding issues and lack of parking we already have. AWFUL. We need to find more out about this place before they break ground. HORRIBLE IDEA.

      • robert says:

        Not to worry, the usual group of self appointed community activists will kick and scream, but it will do no good.
        The building is as of right, meaning they don’t need a special permits, approvals etc to build. DOB can not halt an as of right building unless there is a “manifest engineering flaw in the design” i.e. the engineering plans for the building are not up to code. Such as the city says the concrete of each floor must be 6 inches thick but the plans call for only 0.6 inches.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “I would hate for this to become the upper east side.”

        The possibility of this part of the UWS becoming another Upper East Side is about as likely as:
        1) Bernie Sanders being elected President;
        2) Republicans to stop “investigating” Hillary;
        3) or, on a less political note, Matt Damon’s character finding a Shake Shack on Mars.

        • Sean says:

          The UWS below 72nd St. is just like the East Side and to be accurate this area really is called Lincoln Square. The area north of W72nd St. is the true UWS. Below Lincoln Square is Columbus Circle FYI. And if you haven’t noticed, wealth has moved west.

        • zeus says:

          Sanders has a better chance of being elected president than Hillary.

          It’s gonna be kinda hard for her to run her campaign from the big house up the river.

      • Sean says:

        This ain’t Vermont.

    7. Gretchen says:

      Well, as Gene Shepherd once aptly said, “In god we trust, all others pay cash.” In NYC, houses of worship are going the way of parking garages — no longer meeting the real estate appraiser’s sacred metric of “highest and best use” after all. Hey, New Yorkers don’t need no worship joints after all! Yay!!!

      • Iiari says:

        Of course, they did build a new architecturally interesting Lincoln Square synagogue on the next block over, so the house of worship didn’t go away, really. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/at-last-a-new-lincoln-square-synagogue/?_r=0

        And, of course folks, the West Side has no tall towers for context, especially none a few blocks south at Lincoln Center (rolls eyes). No, none at all…

        Bring on the 55 stories. Make it 60 while you’re at it!!

      • jezbel says:

        Speaking of houses of worship going away. Does anyone know what they plan to do with the empty synagogue (Congregation Hobonim)on W. 66th St. in the park block? Maybe it’s gone already, but the last time I passed by it was empty and looked like it was about to be trashed. I used to live at 10 W. 66th, when it was the only residential building on the block. It was mostly ABC studios. Then the skinny condos moved in next door.

        • Sherman says:

          They’re building a high rise in the old Habonim spot and Habonim will relocate to th first floor.

          • jezbel says:

            Thx.

          • Groundcontrol says:

            Ummmm-they’re building a megatower-approximately 80 stories. The Mayor and the developers have decided Central Park needs no sunlight, and New Yorkers need no space on a sidewalk to walk, or on a street to drive.

            • Lenny says:

              Although anecdotal, I have heard that the Guild For The Blind building has also been sold, and the footprint of the new tower will encompass that space plus what previously was Habonim and ABC. Height I’ve heard discussed varies between 55 and 70 stories. This would be somewhat substantiated by the Guild no longer being used as a polling place during elections. This should make for an interesting few years of crosstown commutes during construction, given that 65th and 66th are the M66 bus routes and the transverses are already a traffic mess (not to mention post-construction, when, conservatively, 150+ new households will have moved into the neighborhood). And yes, my understanding is that a space will be made in this new building to house Congregation Habonim once again.

    8. drg says:

      Another point (I also raised in August):
      I dont understand why there is no clamor to have this existing building landmarked and protected!!
      It seems like a classic example of postwar Soviet bloc architecture, ironically used for religious purposes.

      • Scott says:

        Yup, it’s Brutalism 101. Looks like one of Paul Rudolph’s narcissistic disasters. I hope the landmarking comment was sarcasm.

      • Woody says:

        What a fantastic idea! Let’s totally obliterate the principle of separation between church and state by landmarking a religious site.

        • Cato says:

          Not sure what you (or anyone) mean by “separation of church and state”, but our Constitution prohibits the *establishment* of an official religion. That’s very different from protecting a structure that once served as a house of worship. There’s nothing wrong with that.

          St. Patrick’s Cathedral is — as it should be — a national landmark. Protecting it for all to appreciate does nothing to establish an official religion and therefore does not offend our Constitution.

          These are buildings, bricks and mortar, we’re talking about, that’s all.

          • MaryJo says:

            Finally, someone who understands the meaning of the separation of church and state. Landmarking a historic house of worship does not have any bearing on that issue. For the “move to Vermont” crowd, have you thought about moderation in everything? Skyscrapers do belong in a city, but chosen well and sparingly. Building one on every available parcel is overkill.

          • Woody says:

            There’s a significant difference between buildings that are designated as National Historic Landmarks vs. those designated by the NYC Landmarks and PRESERVATION Commission. The former does not require the owner to comply with any preservation laws whereas the latter is a restrictive designation geared toward preservation.

            The separation of church/state plays an important role in that federal funds cannot be allocated for preservation of National Historic Landmarks of religious significance as they are for all other landmarks.

      • MeInWhySww says:

        Important? Perhaps. Fug? Totally.

    9. lis says:

      This adds to other big projects underway or planned for the UWS, including Broadway and 61st (former Museum of Biblical Art) and the mega project on West End 58-60th Street.

      So, among other things, more commercial and delivery trucks/vehicles, more Uber vehicles, more crowded buses and subways, etc. Traffic at a standstill and overflow subway platforms.

    10. Ed says:

      I may be wrong here but here’s what I know about the site. But before anyone yells at me (that never happens here), I am not a fan of a building this size going up on this spot. I’m a Lincoln Towers resident, and it’s been my understanding that the buildable height of 55 stories or 600 ft. is already a done deal. This was done during air rights swaps when other nearby buildings went up a few years ago. Unless someone out there knows a loophole, we’re going to get this tower. But at a cost of 300 million, can you imagine the cost per square of ownership is going to be. “Downsizing” from Westchester? Well, perhaps in size but certainly not in price.I think the best we can hope for is a majority of units to be sold to overseas non resident investors.
      Of course this new info begs the following questions. What’s going to happen to the Fresh Direct trucks? Where are the delivery guys going to hang out? Perhaps they can fill in as doormen during down time. Will the new building still allow all those posters to be plastered on the windows. How will I know about all those off off off off Broadway shows are opening or when the new Derelicte (see Zoolander) line is arriving. Like some of the others here I’m being totally selfish and while I can live without a Long John Silvers, a Dunkin Donuts would be nice.
      On the other hand, one thing the new building is sure to bring to the neighborhood are rats, lots and lots of rats.
      I’m just sayin’

      • Iiari says:

        And of course your Lincoln Towers was an aesthetic gift to the UWS, right? I mean, that’s what we really need. Forget 55 story buildings. Let’s do some more that look just like Lincoln towers…

        Listen, we have an apt in Lincoln Towers, and it’s great, but a beauty the building is not. And just that I’m happy the building is there so we (and even you) can be there, so the 55 ft building will come and bring people to the UWS too. Your post smacks of opposing the building because of the types of people it might bring, and that’s just wrong.

        Couldn’t follow the rest of the post, so, whatever, but bring on the tall building please. There’s lots of existent and future tall buildings in the neighborhood for it to hang out and be contextual with, and the character of the UWS won’t existentially change. Excelsior…

        • lis says:

          While I have no doubt that the building will go up, I do think that such a building (and other like it) does change the neighborhood. Similarly things are different when a old-time “mom and pop” store is replaced by a nail salon or Barnes & Noble replaced by Century 21, etc.

          If you “have an apt in Lincoln Towers” perhaps that is not your primary residence?

          It is likely that people who live in the area – it is their home – will have very different views about development than people who have pied-a-terres or “investment” apartments.

        • Ed says:

          Clearly you did not grasp what I was saying. First of all I know all about the history and “beauty” of Lincoln Towers and that is not the topic here. It was just a reference to proximity. At no point did I ever make or imply anything about a type of people. If you are referring to the line “best we can hope for is a majority of units to be sold to overseas non resident investors.”, it simply means that there are, and have been buildings built and purchased as investments by people who never occupy those units. So while the building may be fully sold there is little increase in the congestion of the area. It was a comment on density NOT people. and there there is “Couldn’t follow the rest of the post, so, whatever, .” Those are your words, not mine. It’s called satire. Look it up! People still have freedom of expression but if you are going to insinuate the veil of racism on someone else’s part you should make sure you understand what they are saying.

    11. robert says:

      Folks will yell and scream with typical UWS nimbyism but this is a as of right building.
      The zoning allows them to build 55 stories. So hopefully folks will try and work with the developer
      and get some concessions, if they can. When a building is as of right all the petitions, frivolous lawsuits
      etc do is cost the developer $$$. $$$ that where already factored into the deal and then you get nothing
      from them. The city and our local elected’s would be wise to do what many others have done. Tell developers
      that they can build 60/65 stories but they need to build a school into the bottom 5 stories. The developer would win as they could charge more for the apt’s that where higher up and the community would win by having a brand new state of the art school at no cost to the city.
      This was done a few years ago at 110 & B’way with Columbia University.

      • Woody says:

        The UWS could use a new school that taught people the difference between where and were & apt’s and apts.

        Just sayin’ 🙂

        • robert says:

          That is just another reason we should have charter schools, as I’m the product of our failing uws schools. Take look at the recent 4th grade results in math & reading v the rest of the city & state. Ha Ha

          Though actually its also possible that being in the 37th hour of a 72 hour shift in a trauma center ER surgical unit and type it in using my phone I may not have reread what I type before I hit send. Life was so much easier when I could just call in a(n) airstrike.

    12. zeus says:

      Tower of Babel anyone?

      Gonna be closer to God.

      Watch out!

    13. Jen Gray says:

      I hope the new tenants are able to irradiate the tat infestation that we have all been living with for several years. This is in spite of the city filling a planter on the site with cement.

    14. Diana B says:

      Another waste of money and crowder of the uws.

    15. diane says:

      I can’t wait for the day (of course it will never happen, but I fantasize) when the developer announces plans for 100% of the building to be affordable–nice homes that allow average income earners to participate in this ridiculously overpriced real estate market! Sadly it will unlikely happen in my lifetime . . .

    16. Christina says:

      So what else is new?! Starter families, empty nesters. All from the suburbs. This has been happening for a while. Downtown has “Chinatown”, “Little Italy” and we have “Little Suburbia”.

    17. Kira says:

      55 stories is seriously tall… Does anyone know how tall the Aire building is? I mean LT buildings go up to 30 – that’s 25 more stories…

      And rats yes – NO question about that… Which begs the question of where our corrupt crew of lobbyists/PTA/CEC members is at this time – aren’t they worried about the rats in their kids’ school playground? Or do they have exterminators on the books just waiting in the wings to be tapped for the unbelievable problem we are about to have?

      • Jeremy says:

        600 feet is about the same height as the Julliard condos across the street on 67th and Amsterdam. The Millennium would be about 50 feet shorter, and the Aire is actually about 20% shorter.

    18. Judy Kass says:

      Rotten idea! I hope the community rises up and defeats 55 story idea. 15-20 stories is ideal for West Side — no more.

      • robert says:

        Folks one more time
        This, as is most construction, an as of right deal
        That means there is nothing you can “rise up” and/or defeat about this project.
        It is a done deal.

      • Jeremy says:

        There are 8 buildings at least 540 feet tall between 60th and 72nd, west of the park. There are two more currently under construction on 60th street that are 530 feet tall.

        Of course, some of these are nice and some are ugly. This developer seems to skew towards ugly, but the size is hardly unique in the neighborhood.

    19. Doug Garr says:

      Ah, a day gone by in NYC without a good argument is a missed opportunity (Mario Cuomo).

    20. John says:

      I’m all for growth and moving forward but we need to have some respect for the current neighborhood and its residents! 55 stories on that small plot of land seems ridiculous and disrespectful to this UWSer. Have these builders no shame?

    21. Lucien says:

      I think it is inevitable that all of the UWS will be replaced by high story buildings if real estate market continues to boom. My concern is if the bedrock in that area can withstand the weight of such a high tower. Is there a point that the bedrock has so much weight on it from the surrounding buildings that it fails? Do developers account for this and test the ground before construction? I know the bedrock is really far down to reach at the center of the island.

      • kira says:

        They did testing of the bedrock – this was a few weeks ago (I think WSR covered it – can’t remember?).

        When I asked about the height I was truly thinking the Aire was the same height that this would be. But 20% taller? THAT IS INSANE. It will stick out like a sore thumb on that narrow piece of land. How completely bizarre. How can this be????

        I’m interested in this clever rezoning you speak of, Batya…

    22. Batya Lewton says:

      The actual height of the building is 600 feet which equals a 60 story tower. The used 400,000 sq feet of air rights which was the result of some clever rezoning on the site.
      Batya

      • bill3 says:

        The Lincoln Towers/PS199 campus is a lovely, quiet, shady island of trees and kids playing in the playground. The tower will kill it. God forbid they should put a little park where the synagogue was. But of course, the only thing that matters is money.

    23. Sandor says:

      At this point, you might as well let them build to their heart’s content. They’ll overbuild, and if the economy goes sour and foreign money dries up, prices will come down.

      Really, the surprising thing isn’t that the UWS is no longer “affordable.” The surprising thing is that it was as affordable as it was for as long as it was.

    24. Rebecca says:

      This plan is an abomination forced onto our neighbor with the only impacts being negative: overcrowding of streets, subways, stores, schools; blockage of light to adjacent buildings; excessive demand on infrastructure and utilities, etc. These ugly, out of proportion structures in our neighborhood (and city, in general), obliterating our skyline, are erected not to service the needs of suburbanites moving back to the city, but to fulfill the greedy desires of investors wishing only to make more and more and more money without any thought to the impact on real people leading real lives in real neighborhoods. Saddest of all is the fact that if not one person in the neighborhood is in favor of this plan, it will still go through. In fact it became a done deal without any opportunity for the community to respond. We have lost control. this is not democracy. It is rule by the rich.

      • Jeremy says:

        You’ve got to admit – complaining about skyscrapers “obliterating our skyline” is kind of funny.

      • Nathan says:

        I’m in the neighborhood and I’m in favor of this. Just sayin’…

        Also, love Jeremy’s observation above. 😀 Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    25. Jayson Washington says:

      So let me understand the concern…Someone moves to Manhattan into an Upper West Side super tower, buys a 7 million dollar condo and sends his kid(s) to ….Public School…….What are you smoking?

    26. Wendy says:

      This would be awful! Midtown Manhattan coming to the UWS! Blocking more and more light! How can we stop it?

      • Sean says:

        The area isn’t really the UWS. It is really called Lincoln Square.

        • Christina says:

          the Upper West Side starts north of 59th Street. Originally ended at 110th Street. Now sometimes is thought to be 125th St. or stopping at 96th St. Even though there are names like Lincoln Square, Manhattan Valley and such, it all is under the umbrella of The Upper West Side.

    27. Louise Clay says:

      Have you been in the West Side subways lately? the cinemas? the restaurants? walked the sidewalks?
      WHERE WILL THE WEST SIDE PUT 55 STORIES OF NEW RESIDENTS? I suppose developers count on folks like me moving to New Jersey. Done.

    28. Janice Singer says:

      This is untenable. Our area is already
      over developed & this will add to the
      congestion big time. This project needs to be
      scaled down before it has a negative impact
      on our neighborhood quality of life.

      • Jeremy says:

        Nah. That stretch of Amsterdam is actually kind of a ghost town, and the increased foot traffic would be more than welcome. Hopefully we get retail on the ground floor.

        I can see why all of these pretty, shiny new towers would concern Lincoln Towers owners, whose apartments look pretty rudimentary in comparison. However, maybe the rising tide will lift their boat, as well.

    29. cj berk says:

      This is beyond depressing. The blocks between 69th and 72nd are already filthy and crowded. I say again, trader jo’s has brought us hordes of people on line and homeless congregating around. When bloomingdale’s
      arrives-they will compete for space with the booksellers, the homeless, trader jo traffic and now this. On the corner of 72nd& bway-a street vendor is selling coats and a man is begging for money for his femAle companion in a wheel chair. Rather he isn’t begging -he’s shouting and accosting people. Have you seen them? Well add to this a 55 story bldg and voila -a really awful neighborhood is created. No-no school please! Give us a break. A supermarket like Morton Williams would be useful. But in reality, its time to move-the upper east side sounds good by comparison. Friends from out of town just left-they said they’ve never seen the city look dirtier and every block here smells like urine. I’m sad but I agree.

      • Christina says:

        @ cj… You haven’t been here that long then! It’s pretty decent compared to what it used to be!

      • Jay says:

        Your arm must get tired from shaking your fist in the air all day.

        If you are in favor of building a 25 foot wall around the UWS where nothing will ever change and no one can come and go, you’re going to get pretty lonely. Probably just you, a few other NIMBYs that post here and some homeless.

    30. caitlin says:

      Lenny is correct – 65th and 66th/the transverses are already beyond congested and the M66 bus can hardly move.
      Construction on the former Habonim site would mean complete gridlock.

    31. Richard says:

      No one is mentioning what its like to live next door to such a building going up. In that short stretch along Amsterdam, it will be the fourth structure in 9 years with ear shattering jackhammering for months plus trucks backing up and beeping and 630am and months of sewer line drilling in the middle of the street.
      We had the large Red Cross building be brought down and then built up as an apt bdlg.
      we had storefonts disappear for the latest eyesore apt bldg. described in another notes on West Side Rag.. It took over 6 years to build a five story synagogue on Amsterdam..and now this 55 story tower.
      Shouldn’t there be a limit of how MUCH construction on two streets should be allowed.? Realtors gone amuck. If you don’t live next to this project you don’t realize the personal damage done to a life. My pooor former neigbhbor at 90 years old who faced all of this and stayed at home.

    32. Alison Ames says:

      “monograms” like SJP and others, usually betray the initials of the major owner of the company. Does anyone know the name behind “SJP”???

    33. Sheila says:

      I attended a meeting last week regarding this building and was told that the reason they are able to build it this high is because the new synagogue sold them the air rights above the new synagogue. So the blame for this monstrosity should be directed directly at them because they’re the ones that sold out the neighborhood. Of course no one will ever blame them outright because that would be “antisemitic”, but I’m Jewish and have no problem calling it the way it is.