Local politicians say that the city has “halted” plans to build a new 10-story building above an existing seven-story building at 711 West End Avenue between 94th and 95th Streets. But the developers say they plan to forge ahead, adding that the city’s denial may end up hurting the current residents of the building most of all.
The city Department of Finance denied the developers’ application to create a new tax lot for the proposed building, raising financial challenges for the project, according to Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell. O’Donnell and Councilmember Helen Rosenthal held a press conference on Monday to announce the ruling. Residents in 711 West End say that the new building, which would be supported by stilts and suspended over their building, is dangerous and should be stopped.
The developers, organized as a joint venture called 305 W 95th St Developer LLC, say the Department of Finance’s position “does not imperil the construction of additional residences above 711 West End Avenue” and “we remain in active discussions with DoF,” according to a statement they sent to West Side Rag.
In fact, they claim the denial will mostly hurt existing residents in the building.
“It does challenge the development team’s ability to offer the same level of rent concessions to residents and enhancements to the existing building that are intended under a separate tax lot proposal. The project as planned will result in significant upgrades to the building and its residents’ apartments, while simultaneously introducing new condominium housing and preserving rent-stabilized housing on the Upper West Side.”
Building residents, most of whom are in rent-stabilized apartments, have been trying since at least 2015 to stop the project. They had hoped other city agencies would help slow or kill it — the project got Building Department permits just days before the building was placed in an historic district. Getting permits after landmarks approval would have made the development process more onerous, if not impossible. And the developers initially had submitted permits indicating that 711 West End was “unoccupied,” a false statement that the project manager chalked up to a clerical error but which opponents found more sinister. Rosenthal called it “an obvious attempt to circumvent protections rent-stabilized tenants have, and would have created unsafe and unlivable conditions for the residents.” They were fined $4,800 but allowed to proceed.
Parents at nearby PS 75 have also protested, saying the new development will cause more traffic problems at a dangerous corner.