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.”