Stakes are High as City Board Will Review Amsterdam Avenue Tower


A rendering of the top of the proposed building for 200 Amsterdam Avenue.

By Carol Tannenhauser

On Tuesday, the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) will review a challenge to the building permit issued to SJP Properties to erect a 668-foot residential building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue and 69th Street.

It’s a fight that developers fear could limit their ability to cobble together zoning lots. That would force them to go through a multi-step public process in order to build taller buildings on certain lots.

In an op-ed in Sunday’s Daily News, John H. Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, wrote:

“It is becoming clearer and clearer…that as-of-right development is at risk — under assault by small but vocal groups of Not-in-My-Backyard neighborhood activists who want a shout-down veto over projects that they deem too big, or out of place, or for some other reason dislike. As they are emboldened, the reputation of our city as a safe place to invest in development is at stake.”

Elected officials, led by City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, together with community activists and nonprofit organizations, have been battling the developers for months. Sarah Crean, Council Member Rosenthal’s communications director, responded to Banks’ assertions in an email to WSR:

“Just to clarify — the 200 Amsterdam case is not about as-of-right development as a concept; it’s about ensuring that developers actually follow as-of-right rules. It should not be surprising that an abuse of a loophole has prompted a response. In terms of what to expect tomorrow, Council Member Rosenthal will testify and deliver a letter from her and her colleagues talking about the citywide stakes of this decision.”

George Janes, an urban planner who drafted the original challenge on behalf of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, wrote:

“…there will be more testimony and questioning. There may be a decision, there may not be a decision. If there is a decision, they will vote and there will be written findings released in a month or two. There was a review session today. They seem to be leaning toward the developer’s position, unfortunately.”

The public will be permitted to testify at the hearing, which will be held on Tuesday, June 5th, at 10 a.m., in Spector Hall at 22 Reade Street.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 23 comments | permalink
    1. Denton says:

      Mr. Banks is on point.

    2. Rob says:

      Let them build it already

    3. robert says:

      People will yell and march, but guess what folks. It is an as of right building and will be ruled that way. Then the self appointed community leaders will file lawsuits that will cost much time an money. This will be done will the building is being built as the case drags on. I’m still waiting for all the trees to die from lack of sunlight from the shadow of Time Warner Center. These shadows were a big part of the lawsuits to stop those buildings-guess what, they built ’em

    4. Sherman says:

      “They seem to be leaning towards the developer’s position”

      Best news I’ve had all day!

      This will be a beautiful building that will enhance the neighborhood. It’s a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the grimy and decrepit walk ups that are all over the UWS.

      The neighborhood should not allow a handful of malcontents with selfish personal interests to prevent the city from modernizing and progressing.

      • FormerRSBowner says:

        Walk ups? Highrises dominate the area there even before Trump Place was built. This building is near Freedom Place which is the street behind “Trump Place”/Riverside Blvd. Amsterdam at this location is where the old Blockbuster Video used to be in the old brick highrises around the backside of Juilliard and Lincoln Center.

        In the 20+ years I have been on the UWS, I had been the last person to discourage new developments…my problem has been the people who inhabit them. The neighborhood has become as sterile as the UES was – professional transplants looking for a room with a view and tourists, not a community of people from all walks + professionals and artists. And I feel that people are angry at the symbol it represents as well as the continued congestion, foot traffic and problems with school zoning.

        Just remember that everyone laughed when they built 1 57th Street. No one thought they would build up in their neighborhoods. This city will end up looking like Tokyo and Shanghai in 10 years.

        • Sherman says:

          You have “a problem with the people who inhabit” new development?

          I thought the UWS was supposed to be so liberal and welcoming.

          If new people are moving in and bringing their energy and vitality to the neighborhood then I think this is great.

          When I was a kid the UWS was grimy and crime-ridden. You should stop mythologizing the good old days because they weren’t so good.

        • Rob G. says:

          How stereotypical! An Upper West Sider complaining about the how sterile the Upper East Side is.

          Maybe you should venture across the park once in a while and experience the UES’s amazing vitality, energetic street life, and restaurants. Oh, and you don’t have to duck homeless guys and mental patients every block.

          The Upper West Side needs to take its head out of its ass and see that some wealth (and tourists, for that matter) can actually benefit a neighborhood.

    5. Rob G. says:

      Hopefully sensibility will win out here and this beauty will get built already. I walked by the other day and all I could think of is that if I lived in The Nevada Tower across the street I would no longer have to look at Lincoln Towers, and if I lived in Lincoln Towers I would no longer have to look at The Nevada!

    6. Paul says:

      This will be an ugly and out of place building that may well fail.

      However, anyone doing an on-line search of the various websites that chronicled the neighborhood at the time the developers did the land swap with Lincoln Square Synagogue can easily find references to the fact that the building on the old LSS site could go to or above 600 feet.

      That was ten years ago.

      Today’s objections are untimely.

      The warnings about the effect of a denial now on development are 100% correct.

    7. Rob says:

      thank you Robert and Sherman!

    8. Harriet F. says:

      I’m with the “Let them build it already” contingent. One of the reason why housing is so expensive in Manhattan is that it takes years and years of fighting old residents who don’t want anything to change. That delay, along with the legal fees, adds up to big dollars lost. Let them build it already. It looks like an architecturally interesting building. And yes, I love the posting which pointed out that one of the objections to the Time Warner Center was that the trees in Central Park would die from the shadows!! LOL.

      • jezbel says:

        Just mentioning to the “let them build it already” crowd that the new building at 80th and B’way which so many people were looking forward to because it was new construction in our neighborhood. Had started marketing. (Article here at WSR) Their starting price for an apartment is $10,000. Starting price!! So I’m suggesting that all these new buildings built under 2018 2019 2020 prices will be nothing the average westsider can afford. If you need a 2 BR or 3BR because you have families, you’ll be paying $17,000 to $20,000 a month. That’s insane.

    9. Cyrus says:

      Did someone say Steak? MMMMmmmmm…..

    10. yourneighbor says:

      Hopefully this is resolved at this meeting and they can continue constructing this building to its approved height.

      Extra points to the developer because this looks like it will be a stunning addition to our neighborhood.

    11. Richard Thornhill says:

      None of the people who praise this latest giant building have a clue.
      This is the fourth building to go up in a small zone on Amsterdam Avenue in ten years! None of the people who want this building live next to it! Would you be in favor if I told you there would drilling, trucks idling, hammering, pounding at 7 am with a permit this week for 430am start right next to where you live? Plus Saturday work? for over two years on this project>? I didn’t think so. It will be nearly 12 years of work from 66th to 69th on Amsterdam. Would you like to pay me back for the 6000 dollars in window strengthing I purchased just so more
      “developers’ can build?. I can always recommend to the develops some locations near you if you would like to proudly share your address.

      • Jay says:

        You act as though that is abnormal for any neighborhood in Manhattan. It’s not. I’ve had construction next to my apartment for the past 5 years. Welcome to city living.

    12. KittyH says:

      These comments seem to favor the project at 200 Amsterdam going through, and I’m wondering if the commentors have seen a rendering of this structure within its proposed context: https://newyorkyimby.com/2017/10/excavation-begins-for-200-amsterdam-avenue-soon-to-become-the-upper-west-sides-tallest-tower.html.

    13. KittyH says:

      The people in favor of this project coming to fruition – have they seen photo renderings of this proposed skyscraper within the context of its surroundings? https://newyorkyimby.com/2017/10/excavation-begins-for-200-amsterdam-avenue-soon-to-become-the-upper-west-sides-tallest-tower.html

      • yourneighbor says:

        Yes, and it looks great!

      • F.P. says:

        We have, Kitty!! I couldn’t be more excited about this gorgeous addition to the upper west side. Thanks for reminding us what an amazing design this is. And remember: your quality of life will not be affected ONE IOTA by this building, and even the renders in the YIMBY article don’t actually show how great this building will look with all of the other skyscrapers on Amsterdam around it.

        • Jen says:

          Sure, overcrowding, garbage spilling over, lack of schools, subway you can’t enter, and I’m not even bringing up air and light (they will jump on you asking to move to Kansas), none of it matters to so called YIMBYs who can only understand money talk.

        • KittyH says:

          It admittedly is aesthetically successful when viewed out of its neighborhood context. A scaled-down version would be fine; this is far, far to big.