‘VICTORY’ FOR OPPONENTS OF UPPER WEST SIDE’S TALLEST BUILDING AS CITY HALTS CONSTRUCTION — FOR NOW


The demolition is complete, but the lot on Amsterdam Avenue and 69th Street remains empty. Photo from earlier this year.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The developers of 200 Amsterdam Avenue cannot proceed with their current plans to build the tallest tower on the Upper West Side, as a result of two determinations issued by the Department of Buildings on Tuesday morning.

According to a spokesperson for the DOB, an internal audit determined that there are problems with the zoning lot, specifically, that the developer failed to certify that the lots comprising it have been combined, and that they can build as high as they are planning.

Second, the DOB approved the zoning challenge filed by community activists and elected officials on May 16th, meaning they found at least one of its points to be accurate. They agreed with the challenge that the building’s “open space” does not qualify under the requirements of the NYC Zoning Resolution, which regulates land use and building size, shape, height, and setback.

“The challenge demonstrated that the proposal’s bizarre, gerrymandered zoning lot clearly flouted the spirit and the letter of open space requirements in place to protect residents’ access to light and air,” said City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who signed onto the challenge along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Kate Wood of Landmarks West. She sent out a statement to supporters calling the ruling a “great victory for our community.” The challenge was initiated by Olive Freud, of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, and drafted by George Janes, an urban planner.

“The difference between this and prior actions is, we now have a formal response,” Janes said. “Everything’s on hold until the applicant responds to the DOB’s questions. It’s a definite problem for them. If I were on the other side of this, I would be very concerned.”

The bottom line, according to the DOB spokesperson is, the developer needs to revise its plans to satisfy all of the issues that were raised in the audit and the challenge. They need to come back to the DOB with a new set of plans in complete compliance.

“This is not news,” a spokesperson for SJP Properties, the developer with Mitsui Fudosan America, responded. “The review has been underway for a period of time, and the developer is completely confident that this process will confirm that the zoning for 200 Amsterdam is entirely valid.”

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 24 comments | permalink

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    1. Reg Lincoln says:

      More encouraging news for all fans of smart, legal development that fits within the UWS and the law. Even developer SJP Properties will benefit when a legal, proportionate building is built and welcomed. Smart, proportionate development benefits everyone. Looking forward to more good news.

    2. Jane Seidel says:

      Thanks and further strength to the grassroots coalition of UWS groups and people that have filed the challenge and communicated with city officials and their neighbors — Comm for Environ Sound Devel (filed the challenge), Landmark West, residents of nearby and UWS buildings, PS199 parents, and many others. And key support from politicians Helen Rosenthal, Gail Brewer, Scott Stringer, and Mel Wymore. To be continued, with accelerating determination and results!

    3. Abe Connor says:

      It appears that DeBlasio and the City Council, having been permissive and negligent for several years, are now diligently enforcing the current zoning regs and processes. Hopefully now they realize that NYC should proceed to reform the zoning laws themselves for greater simplicity, transparency, predictability, and time-efficiency. That will benefit everyone and reduce costs.

    4. Sherman says:

      Great news. I hope the construction on this site is halted indefinitely.

      I love walking by this giant empty pit in the ground every morning. The wooden fence surrounding this site is also a nice touch.

      This really adds to the character of the neighborhood. Score one for the “community activists” who stopped this construction!

      • Jen says:

        Will you stop whining about the pit? Apparently you understand that it is going to be filled but you can’t stop complaining about it over and over. Hopefully not with this monstrosity.

        Also, why such condescending attitude toward the communities activists?

        • OriginalMark says:

          The Righties whine.
          They aren’t “ideas” people.
          Just look at health care.

          • Surreal DadUWS says:

            That’s what sideline people do through history. A flat piece of concrete is better than that sky blocking monolith that was planned.

            Speaking of SIDELINES – Interesting that Helen Rosenthal gets to hitch her useless wagon on to the victory train. I heard she has been giving the those community activists THE HAND for years. Only after it looked expedient for her show up did she get involved in a very minor way. Oh well A WIN IS A WIN. Go #UWS

      • jezbel says:

        I’ll take an open pit over a huge montrosity that will bring more crowding, more cars, more competition for schools, parking spaces and people jammed onto our streets any day of the week. There was poor planning, bad thinking and a general lack of oversight when they decided to slam this monster-of-a-building in our neighborhood. Take a deep breath and walk past the pit knowing that whatever goes in there will be better than the initially poorly thought-out building.

      • B.B. says:

        Did any of you bother to read actual DOB action?

        Developers have not filed nor begun any construction work so there was nothing to “halt”. Indeed DOB has issued a notice since clarifying that position saying while construction permits were not sought (so there was nothing to approve or halt), developer can continue doing “other” work on site.

      • glitter says:

        Im with you! i long for a sophisticated building on the upper west side. UWS residents have terrible reputations because of community bullying like this. whats the big deal???!!! lets get the UWS out of this prewar mentality. or lets try and cure cancer. that sees more important dont you think?!

    5. F Ames says:

      Too much money involved
      This project will go forwArd
      Despite community opposition
      The UWS as ae knew it is changing
      Dramatically. It’s a train that will not
      Stop. However the destruction of
      Teddy Roosevelt Park and the
      Proposed new bldg is going too
      Far
      God help us

    6. Jay says:

      Enjoy it this pyrrhic victory while you can. It won’t last long. You might win a floor taken off, but that’s about all.

    7. Bob says:

      I’ll feel better when this is over and they have to work with the same height as their neighbors.

    8. Why does it always take concerned citizens to combat the developers of these monstrosities like 200 Amsterdam Ave. Where were Community Board 7, Gale Brewer,and Helen Rosenthal when these plans where first proposed? To me it seems after the fact, they grand stand finally choosing a side for their political capital.

    9. James Berry says:

      So glad that common sense triumphed over sheer greed.

    10. West Side neighbor says:

      Does anyone know or can anyone venture an educated
      guess how high should the developer have been aiming to build considering their not meeting the open space provisions? In other word, what is a realistic goal of this legal challenge?

    11. robert says:

      Folks for the 8 billionth time this building WILL be built. If you bother to actually ready the notes to the statement DOB made, you will clearly see this. All they said is that there are two parcels and/or tax lots. 123 & 123A, but the original paperwork only mentioned one of them and that without the other being listed they could not qualify for – “open space” does not qualify under the requirements of the NYC Zoning Resolution-once they amended the paper work to reflect both numbers the plans WILL be approved as is. With the two lot numbers on the plans it meetings all the DOB requirements. All that has happened here is local elected and the regular group of self appointed community leaders have delayed a project 3 months or so.
      Don’t believe me? Read what DOB said in PC language- make the amendments and we will release the hold on your permits

      • Jen says:

        We do believe you that the developer will try it best to address the issue without actually changing it. But some of us don’t believe we should just sit and do nothing and let it go without any challenge. Things change if you put an effort, not instantaneously as we all understand, so maybe not with this project, but again, you have to start somewhere.

        Apparently trolling is easier than putting an actual effort.

      • Jay says:

        Sorry, robert, facts and logic aren’t strong with the NIMBY crowd.

    12. Barry says:

      Cheers for Olive Freud, Helen Rosenthal, Gale Brewer and Kate Wood!! The west Side doesn’t need too become one big looming shadow of daylight. Write letters and resist the takeover of space and light by greedy real estate developers.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “Write letters and resist the takeover of space and light by greedy real estate developers.”

        Down with “Greedy” Real Estate Developers!
        Up with “Altruistic” Real Estate Developers!

        Oh, more better…NO Private Developers at all. Let every building be the work of Dept. of Buildings designers.

        Then all new buildings will look like those other wonderful examples of city architects: PUBLIC SCHOOLS and NYCHA PROJECTS.

        And then, as in Animal Farm, we will be taught to bleat simplistic official slogans, such as:
        “Red Brick GOOD; Aluminum and Glass BAD!”

        • Jen says:

          A good one. Did it take you a long time to come up with this piece of wisdom? I assume you also tried sarcasm.

    13. Nightowl says:

      I believe that the DOB endorses Helen Rosenthal