CONTROVERSIAL AMSTERDAM AVENUE TOWER ‘ON HOLD’ AFTER ANOTHER DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS RULING


Three renderings of the building proposed for 200 Amsterdam Avenue.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The super-tall building planned for 200 Amsterdam Avenue is officially “on hold,” according to the NYC Department of Buildings website. On Friday, June 23rd, the words “Audit: Notice to Revoke” also appeared on the site, referring to the zoning permit that would allow the building to rise 668’, making it the tallest  building north of midtown and on the Upper West Side.

“Looks like 200 Amsterdam is “on ice” for the moment, but we’re not declaring victory yet,” wrote preservationist group Landmark West in an email to supporters. The ruling is “a real impediment for the developer,” wrote a spokesperson for Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the project will be changed or squashed.

On May 23rd, community activists and elected officials filed a legal challenge to the zoning lot for 200 Amsterdam, and the city temporarily stopped the permit approval process while it reviewed the challenge.

George Janes, an urban planner who wrote the challenge, said there is no way to know for sure if the audit resulted from it, “because the DOB hasn’t formally answered the challenge, and audits are not uncommon. They indicate there may be a problem with their approvals and give the applicant a chance to address it.”

“This is a very good first step, but it could lead to a dead end,” Janes cautioned, “if the applicant addresses whatever issue the DOB is bringing up and it goes right back to where it was. But if they’re unable to address it, then it goes on to the next step, which would ultimately result in a revocation of the permit.”

“It’s maddening,” he said. “We have no idea what they found. ‘Notice to Revoke’ is the only thing they’ve given us. We don’t know why they issued it, but we do know, if they revoke the approval, this is the first step they have to take.”

SJP Properties said it is working on a response to the notice, but had not sent it as of Wednesday morning.

NEWS | 35 comments | permalink
    1. Reg Lincoln says:

      More positive progress from the supporters of proportionate, legal development. Smart Upper West Siders and forward-thinking developers want to improve the UWS without sacrificing its character, livability, and environment. Now SJP Properties will see the light and propose something legal and appropriate, and they will be welcomed. Here’s to continued progress in the smart, legal direction!

    2. Thomas says:

      Nonsense like this is why the WTC subway station cost $4 billion to build yet has non-working escalators and leaking pipes after one year ….

      • Cato says:

        Oh, so *that’s* the reason.

        And here I thought it was something else.

        You’ve restored my faith in the integrity and competence of municipal government. Thanks!

    3. Avery West says:

      Great work from the coalition seeking a reasonable new project that conforms to the zoning laws — Olive Freud’s Committee for Environ Sound Development, Landmark West, the neighboring condo and co-op boards and residents, PS 199 parents, elected officials led by Helen Rosenthal, and local activists including Mel Wymore. Ultimately, these efforts will benefit everyone in the neighborhood, incl the new residents of 200 Amsterdam! These activists know that, and will maintain the fight as long as necessary.

    4. Avery West says:

      More positive progress from the supporters of proportionate, legal development. Smart Upper West Siders and forward-thinking developers want to improve the UWS without sacrificing its character, livability, and environment. Now SJP Properties will see the light and propose something legal and appropriate, and they will be welcomed.

      • Jay says:

        How many other names do you post under? Looks like at least three in just this thread… Lots of support coming from a few, I suppose.

        • Steven says:

          Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

          • GG says:

            Nice reference!!:) This is literally one of my top 5 movies of all time.

            I was obsessed with the original version when I was a kid. Did they really need to do a remake?? I mean, I love Denzel as much as anyone but how can you improve on a classic? This is also the movie that began a life long obsession with Frank Sinatra. Wow! He was larger than life. They don’t make stars like that anymore.

      • Ye Olde Teachere says:

        Ummm……isn’t this the same thing that “Reg Lincoln” already wrote above???

        Grade: C- Please note: any more plagiarism and you will be sent to the Principal’s office…just on principle.

        • EricaC says:

          I think they just inadvertently “outed” themselves as a troll. Not that it wasn’t obvious, but now it’s clear this is someone posting under multiple names to make it look as though a particular view.has broader support than it does.

    5. Jane Seidel says:

      Great that the Dept of Buildings is scrutinizing the original, flawed zoning application thoroughly, now with the helpful, expert input of planner George Janes. George Janes and his sponsors among smart-development advocates, diligent UWS neighbors, and PS 199 parents will make sure that the overcount of development rights will be corrected, and the developer returns with a legal plan.

    6. Bob says:

      WOW. Power to the people? Been following this one closely.

    7. Abe Connor says:

      Thanks and wishes for continued diligence to George Janes and his backers. They are doing everyone in UWS and NYC a great service in making sure that developer SJP Properties follows the zoning rules, which exist to benefit all New Yorkers. Next, Helen Rosenthal, Gail Brewer, and Bill DeBlasio can work to update the NYC zoning regs to be simpler, transparent, and facilitate disclosure as projects are proposed and approved.

    8. Ground Control says:

      Developers (as they so often do) made a most creative application for air rights-the likes of which makes gerrymandering look straight forward. It’s an absolute misrepresentation of the regulations (not that there are many) on air rights, and should never have been approved. When City Hall and the Mayor stop this policy of real estate first, the regulations we do have might be followed and it might actually become a more human-scaled city. Bravo to the groups who in the spirit of Jane Jacobs care about the quality of life of our neighborhoods and are protecting them.

    9. Terry Silver says:

      As a longtime NYC residential real estate developer, I have to call out this situation. Everyone in the RE business is talking about the rapid, effective organizing efforts behind this zoning challenge. Word in the business is that SJP Properties now acknowledges it overreached by overcounting its development rights in the original proposal, and will have to return with a legal, more reasonable plan. Remarkable impact.

    10. Jim Broad says:

      SJP Properties should share its responses and revised plan with the neighborhood as well as the DOB. Or do they have something to hide?

    11. Mark says:

      Now what can we do to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen on the corner of W 96th and Broadway?

      • robert says:

        Don’t bother wasting your time and money.
        The plans have already been filed and will be public when they are granted. Since this also is an as of right site, along with the air rights they have already bought up there is NOTHING that can be done to stop it. Yes you can sue, yell and scream but as long as its within the as of right guidelines its a done deal. March away and you might delay a project a few weeks but it will be built.
        In the 1950’s the neighborhood was all up in arms out builds being built in the neighborhood that were all out scale and would block out the sunlight. Today those building are known to us as Parkwest Village.

    12. AC says:

      As a city resident for 50 years; employed in Construction Management; and familiar in how City Hall works , , , don’t get excited.

      SJS is very politically connected and has done much for the City of New York and the tri-state area. This is all staged for show. Behind the scenes, meetings take place, and a game plan is devised wherein all parties agree to a solution. Might not rise to 668 feet above sidewalk elevation, but will STILL be the tallest building in the UWS.

    13. Bruce Bernstein says:

      How many “know it all’ commenters on WSR wrote that the zoning challenge by community residents was doomed, that the activists were a bunch of uninformed bumpkins, etc?

      Whatever the ultimate result, the activists have been vindicated. it’s not over yet, but they have proven you CAN challenge powerful real estate interests. hurrah George Janes,Olive Freud, Landmarks West, and everyone else involved.

      I now hope that Helen Rosenthal, Mel Wymore et. al take a SECOND LOOK at the very same developer’s plans for 711 West End Avenue. I have a suspicion there is some zoning over-reach there as well. they want to build a second 14 story building suspended over an existing 6 story building, and they are claiming that these are separate buildings.

    14. Sherman says:

      Luxury apartments are not selling or renting as easily as developers anticipated.

      There is not a bottomless pit of people who can afford these prices.

      I get the impression SJP is not vigorously fighting this opposition from self-appointed community activists because it is afraid it will build a giant tower with apartments it can’t sell.

      SKP might be looking for an excuse to scale back project.

    15. jezbel says:

      Congrats to all Upper West Siders. At least, so far. This building would have been the true beginning of the end of our part of town and started us on the path to the Upper East Side. We do not want to follow in the path of a densely packed and darkened part of the City where we have to walk in the shadows all the time. Too many people, cars and not enough resources would have accompanied a building of this size. And it would have done nothing to regulate apartment prices or add mid-income rentals to the area.

    16. John says:

      Where will I live if they don’t build this? I cant live in the short Republican buildings

    17. nick says:

      sorry gang but this will go through…it’s just that some paperwork needs to be filed (translation: the cash filled envelopes are not filled enough)

      • robert says:

        I belive ment to say “campaign contributions”. For all of our local and citywide elected officials yelling about developers. Take a look on the NYC campaign finance boards website and low and behold the two largest donors are the reinsurance companies and developers. Yes the companies themselves can not give but scroll thru the data and see how many CEO,CFO,COO,Pres. & SVP’s of these companies give the max.

    18. GG says:

      Weird. It seems like 80% of these comments are written by the same person using many different names.

      The most minimal of analysis can tell (writing style, POV, punctuation, etc.) that these users are in fact the same person. I guess, propaganda is alive and well on the UWS but I knew that already. Just FYI ya’ll

      • Jay says:

        Yep. Total AstroTurf commenting going on here. They know this is a losing cause. The desperation is sad, but these folks have a lot of time on their hands…

      • Mark says:

        I agree with you on this GG

    19. robert says:

      For the 800thime this is an as of right building and WILL be built, just like the JHL will be on 97th. DOB audits mean NOTHING, this is political CYA by DOB. That is all. Unless some out and out fraud is uncovered i.e. they planed to use substandard and/or not up to NYC DOB code structural materials, the audit will come to nothing other than to waste city time and $$$. If there was something that glaring
      they city never would have approved their
      permits. Don’t forget its an election year and every city agency wants to curry favor with members of the city council. They will find that some form was submitted on X-57-9 when it should have been on the newer version of the same form x-57-9A. The build will be admonished in a press release and will submit they same info on the new form. They will then build the building.

    20. Marge Krosov says:

      So, what about the 5 story building 108 West 74th Street, purchased in 2005 for $2.5 Million, where they have tried to install another pizza restaurant, where no restaurant ever existed. Since the place is still not open, do I hear “money pit/laundry operation.”

    21. Jake Black says:

      I think the building design looks great and am looking forward to having a tall building in the neighborhood. The block where the building is proposed could certainly fit that building well and hopefully will obscure the hideous Lincoln Towers development. Not sure why so many people on UWS hate any kind of development and have little appreciation for good design. Tall buildings can be very impressive and the step-backs on this design remind of some of the great buildings from the 1930’s.

      • No accounting for tastes. After all,some people think it’s cool to drink wood alcohol and chose a brand of cigarette for their 3 pack a day habit by the design of its package. Enjoy!

      • B.B. says:

        What one always finds amazing is that many of those moaning about this or that new development themselves live in buildings that once provoked the same response.

        Lincoln Towers, Trump Place, etc… all were not universally welcomed developments by local residents at that time.

        It all smacks of “we got ours, now you go get yours, but somewhere else” IMHO.

    22. Simcha Rabinowitz says:

      It will be really great if this inappropriate building never gets build. It would be an ugly addition to the neighborhood. Please, dear Lord, keep this building from being built.

    23. mamaebbes says:

      Are we in agreement that this will not stop the building from going up? This is merely to determine ho high they can build, correct? So now that construction work that was supposed to happen this summer (no kids in school at PS 199) will be delayed, the work can nicely begin right on time with school starting up again, providing much noise and dust to the school yard when the kids are THERE, EVERY DAY. Great.