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.
A rendering of the new building that would be placed over the top of 711 West End Avenue.
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.
These developers have a lot of nerve. All they do is take from our neighborhood. They come to build here because our neighborhood is desirable, but all they contribute is noise, scaffolding and overcrowding. They are not required to help with infrastructure like overcrowded subway entrances, they grease palms for school rezoning (I’m looking at you HELEN ROSENTHAL), and they don’t comply with historical aesthetics. A neighborhood is not made by buildings alone.
That goes both ways as it certainly can be said Ms. Rosenthal and local residents along with tenants of building “have their nerve”.
Ms. Rosenthal worked very hard to get the historic landmark designation extended several blocks northward to include 711 WEA in hopes of blocking this project. When that didn’t work out as planned more legal maneuvers, plots, schemes and stratagems were hatched culminating in this latest tax lot mess.
People wonder why RS laws get such a bad name; well it is actions like this that do those laws no favors. RS tenants in NY are unique in that they almost lone in the world are renters who have by statute and or custom acquired the rights of property ownership, but with none of the risks.
It also explains why no “affordable” or certainly low income housing is built without huge tax and other incentives. Developers would rather put up condos or co-ops and be done with a project than be saddled with generations of RS tenants and or their heirs that effectively mean NYC will be running their affairs.
It’s not true that all developers do is take – they build new homes for future Upper West Siders. The neighborhood is made by neighbors and this building will bring more life to th neighborhood. More customers for local businesses, more taxpayers for local schools and public transportation, more eyes on the street, more friends and neighbors within walking distance. It’s shortsighted to value material objects of the past over the people of the future.
More customers for local businesses? What local businesses? Banks? Stores shut down because of over hiked rents or entrances obscured by construction scaffolding?
We are overcrowded already and so are our schools and public transportation. But if more people move here, then the developers should be required to pay into infrastructure improvements – like the public transportation and the schools. Or if there is business space on the ground floor, make the rent reasonable for a mom and pop restaurant.
Tax payers are not enough.
If you think the neighborhood is already overcrowded and doesn’t have any businesses worth supporting, I’m curious why you continue to live here. Which existing homes would you know down, and who would to kick out to reduce the “overcrowding”?
There are only a handful of neighborhoods in the entire country with the density of the Upper West Side. I moved here because of that density – for the estaurants, shops and culture, all within walking distance. If you want to live in a less “crowded” neighborhood there are thousands of lower density neighborhoods and towns.
When did I say “no businesses worth supporting”? And your sentence starting with “which existing homes…” is incoherent.
My point is you need more than apartments to have a neighborhood. If a developer keeps packing in apartments and making a profit, it would be nice to contribute to the neighborhood by way of tax abatements in the ground floor of their buildings for small businesses so the CAN thrive and CAN be supported. Been to a restaurant lately? Can’t walk in and sit down for over an hour in most. Or, in the case of 79th street where yet another condo is going up, contribute to the construction of an additional subway entrance.
And I live here because it’s a great neighborhood. And it deserves better.
so now the developer is threatening the existing tenants. obviously they will be filing for MCI increases due to this monstrosity. what a racket.
And shame on the City for giving this project permits. I ask again, where will the stilts be? it seems so very very risky.
“where will the stilts be? it seems so very very risky”
It’s fine if you oppose the project, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. As for its construction, much larger buildings than this one have been safely cantilevered out over other structures or spaces. From an engineering perspective it’s your position that needs better legs to stand on.
Eric, as to whether this is unusual or not:
“Boardman [the developer] and the tenants disagree on important points such as whether the building will put additional pressure on the lower structure. According to Boardman, the addition is designed to be completely separate from the existing building, with independent structures and foundations. He said that the buildings are “seismically separate,” meaning that in the event of an earthquake, they would act independently.
“The project is very unusual, I’m not aware of this kind of thing ever being done in Manhattan,” said George Deodatis, Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at Columbia University. “Technologically speaking, it can be done, but it will be wildly expensive.”
“how many stilts are needed for the cantilever on that side of the building? the legacy building is flush against the sidewalk on that side. And on the W 94th street side as well.”
Bruce, I am not a structural engineer by trade but know several by acquaintance through architects I deal with. While I cannot know what approach the architects and engineers plan to use in this specific design I CAN tell you that structures are cantilevered all the time, often without ANY supports under the ‘overhanging’ part of the building at all (a cursory web search will yield many dramatic images of structures that do this). So on this specific point, ignoring other arguments pro or con, it is likely totally irrelevant as to where ‘stilts’ could go as none may be needed at all.
Eric, are you a structural engineer? if you are, perhaps you can then tell me where the stilts will go on the W. 95th Street side. there is literally no space for them. And how many stilts are needed for the cantilever on that side of the building?
the legacy building is flush against the sidewalk on that side. And on the W 94th street side as well.
i don’t claim to be an expert on this. but it seems kind of odd to me. And at least one structural engineer, admittedly hired by tenants, has called the safety of the design into question.
the developer is claiming that the entire structure will be supported by “a separate structure of steel columns and beams placed around the exterior of 711 West End Avenue.” Where will these columns and beams go on the W 95th street side? or on W 94th Street?
I don’t see them in the drawing above.
Good luck with halting this project. It is a big money project and will better the neighborhood. A handful of angry tenants won’t be able to stop it.
The intersection of 95 and WEA is a mess to begin with. I would hate to see what it is like during the term of this construction. Hopefully the developers would fund a full time traffic cop.
“rent concessions” wtf, there were never any rent concessions offered. The so called upgrades were being done so that the new luxury condos wouldn’t feel as if they lived next door to a crummy place and decrease the value of the condos. It’s all marketing bs.The developer, since he claimed it was a separate building, has nothing to do w/rent stabilization.In fact, when the tax abatement runs out in a couple of years don’t be surprised to see all the warehoused apartments up for rent at market rates, not stabilized. If this ain’t so, have Paul Boardman put up $ in escrow and sign a contract to preserve rent stabilized apartments @ 711. Put up or shut up Paul Boardman,.
I hope this project goes ahead.
A bunch of entitled tenants enjoying artificially subsidized cheap rent shouldn’t be dictating who gets to live in the neighborhood.
Besides, who exactly is paying for the upkeep, maintenance and taxes of this building? The landlord is likely barely able to balance his books as he has a limited cash flow coming in from tenants.
This construction project will provide a much needed capital inflow to support this building.
You seem to hold a lot of resentment for regulated tenants. Wonder where that comes from.
No one is “dictating” who gets to live in the neighborhood. The opposition has been about the health and safety of the current residents, neighbors and passersby.
How about management embark on a relocation plan (perm or temp) for existing residents, tear the sucker down and build it from scratch. If that’s not economically feasible, then this risky project should be a no-go.
really selfish of you to forget the kids who go to the school right next to it.
enough is enough!
how does this “better the neighborhood”? it doesn’t.
and where the hell are these structural external “Stilts” going to go? look at the building. the developer can’t put “stilts” on the sidewalk. the building is flush against the sidewalk.
this is an absolutely insane project.
as for Sherman saying that the landlord is losing $s on the rent stabilized tenants: of course there is no way he knows this. he hasn’t seen the books, unless he works for the landlord (and then, of course, he is hardly neutral). In fact, you can look up summary statistics on the Rent Guidelines Board web site, and you will see that the average rent stabilized building in Manhattan is quite profitable.
the only way this building loses money “as is” is if it is mortgaged up to the eyeballs — over-mortgaged.
those of us who live on the block and in the building know that this construction project will make quality of life go down.
“those of us who live on the block and in the building know that this construction project will make quality of life go down”
So there it is at last. Bruce, there is not a New Yorker living who has not had to endure the annoyance of construction. None of us love it, especially when it is right by us, but that cannot be a factor in deciding whether or not to build. If it was, none of the buildings we live in would exist.
Detailed structural drawings don’t seem to be available online at the Building Department web site. What is available shows that stilts will be visible on the recessed center section in the front surrounding the building entrance.
As to benefits to the neighborhood it is all relative. The state will collect more taxes as a result. The local businesses might get more business. People will be able to find an apartment on the UWS. The local residents will have to deal with some additional people in the neighborhood using local resources. Some new businesses might appear to service the additional people. The schools may get a few more students. There will be more shade in the afternoon on West End Avenue. Some construction related issues while the new section of the building is being built. Some will profit from the venture. The neighborhood will not change significantly.
Took a closer look at the drawings online. There will be visible columns (stilts) along the perimeter of the building on WEA in front and in the courtyard on the building exterior. From the Building Department web site, drawing no. A-100.02 First Floor Plan note no. 5 identifies new structure. A zoning drawing shows ladder shaped structures on the outside. Existing internal structure might also be used to add additional loading capacity as well as provide stability.
NYCissues, can you give me a link as to where you found these plans? I couldn’t find them on the Dept of Buildings site.
Amended zoning diagram.
Work Permits – Supporting Documentation
Do you really believe that the Rent Guidelines Board is going to provide an honest and objective study about how great rent regulation is for the city?
Don’t attack me. I’m much smarter than you think and definitely smarter than you.
I know Bruce. He is very smart. As am I.
So now that we’ve all established our intelligence, why do you think this is a good idea? Building owners know full well what the rent stabilization laws state and they take ownership of a property with those laws fully understood. Or they should.
thank you Chuck!!
Chuck does have a dog who i will readily admit is much more intelligent than i am. Seriously. But the dog in question is also extremely compassionate and patient.
Uh, a word to the wise… Being arrogant actually isn’t the same thing as being intelligent.
If you want to convince readers you’re intelligent, frankly that’s different from informing us what a genius you are. Most successful people will say there is humility, consensus-building, compassion, understanding, and respect involved.
yes, i believe the Rent Guidelines Board publishes honest statistics.
Of course i don’t have your genius level IQ. i’m just a poor ignorant working man.
Contrary to the developers’ assertions, this project would do nothing to preserve RS housing in NY. If anything, it would actually hasten the departure of many tenants and free ownership to remove the units from the rent-regulated rolls and raise rents on those units to market rates.
In pursuit of this ill-advised project, I understand management has left the professional suite and many residential units vacant these last two years. It seems they have left a lot of money on the table that could have been used to make improvements in the building they now suggest they won’t be able to afford to.
Considering owner had plans for adding this new structure above existing building, what would be the point of renting out vacant units? Why would they want to expose themselves to more liability and or complaints. It also wouldn’t be fair to any potential new tenants of those vacant units.
Then there is the matter of units being subject to RS laws. Typically the way round that is to gut the apartment and renovate in order to bring the rent up to near or above market rate. Again why go through all that bother when planning a major construction project? Just wait until things are done and when dust settles then deal with the vacant units.
I highly doubt this construction will result in regulated apartments being converted to market rate apartments.
However, if it does then the neighborhood will be all the better. I’m all for it!
How would the conversion of a couple of dozen of rent-regulated apartments to market-rate apartments improve the neighborhood? Do tell.
This is good news. Hopefully this project will move forward and spur more even more residential development in the neighborhood. For those of you that are opposed to it, I would remind you that the very buildings you live in may also have been opposed by residents of the neighborhood at the time they were built.
I think it looks nice . The existing building is a eyesore from another era. Build it !! Green Light it !
Bottom line plain and simple is like so many properties on UWS that sit on avenues the original developer left (for whatever reason or reasons) plenty of buildable space left undeveloped.
In the case of tax payer properties (such as the former bookstore on W81st and Broadway now being redeveloped into condos), motives were clear.
Sadly or whatever you want to call it 711 West End Avenue like any other residential rental that went up in 1951 is under RS, so existing tenants cannot be touched.
So what to do?
Standard practice for past several years is to offer to buy out the RS leases. That has worked well but is getting expensive and certainly would be for a building this size. Nor is there any promise all tenants would take the offer anyway.
So property owner has gone with “plan B”, realize the unused buildable space by putting up a separate structure.
Fact is simply you have an existing low rise structure sitting in a zoned area for greater density *as of right*.
Were it not for RS laws LL would have emptied the place, tore it down and built entirely new in order to realize the full value of his land. But again as that route is blocked (seemingly) you are seeing this battle played out.
The biggest winner in watching this project not go ahead is the developer of the Williams who has succeeded in depriving our neighborhood of hundreds of apartments for seniors. This adds more to his balance sheet that the developer of 711 will ever make.
Maybe the team across the street can fund 711’s improvements and throw in some senior units where 711’s garage is now if this doesn’t go ahead.