Zoning Challenge Issued Against Megatower on 66th; Meeting Thursday

Landmark West and neighbors have filed an official challenge against a proposed 775-foot tall development on West 66th street near Central Park that would be the tallest building on the Upper West Side. The building is inconsistent with the city’s zoning requirements, according to urban planner George Janes, who also worked on an ultimately unsuccessful zoning challenge to a building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue (69th Street). The full text of the challenge is here.

Extell Development did not respond to a request for comment on the challenge.

They’re also holding a community forum on Thursday at 6:30pm at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, on West 65th Street at Central Park West.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 25 comments | permalink
    1. young man! says:

      Here come the NIMBYs.

    2. A.C. says:

      The building shouldn’t shrink, but more should go in… It’s appalling that there aren’t even two apartments per floor. Given the size of the building, it should fit at least 250 apartments, even with the void.

      But I will say this: Even though I still think the building should be built, personally, you waited far too long to challenge. Now, if this process is anything like 200 Amsterdam Avenue, traffic is gonna be a nightmare for several years (Yeah, there would’ve been traffic problems prior, but if they make some good progress between now and a final vote, and you guys win, what’s gonna happen?

      But I will also still stand by my point that the NIMBY attitude is rather dangerous… look at 80 Flatbush Avenue. That’s a great building that happens to be a supertall, but in it goes 922 apartments, 200 affordable apartments, and 722 Market-Rate, a new elementary school, a renovated facility for Khalil Gibran, and a cultural center, along with office and commercial space, and, with most new developments, retail. But the NIMBYs in Boerum Hill are looking at one thing: the height… Honestly, you’re kinda doing that here too, not gonna lie. Admittedly, your argument is stronger here, because the use of space is even worse than with 200 Amsterdam Avenue, but if your main complaint is the height, that isn’t a good reason to try and shut down a building. If the building is actually doing physical damage to the community, or it’s truly gentrification, or if it’s several hundred feet taller than it’s next tallest, then that’s a good case, but this building isn’t any of that. The next tallest building would be 107 feet shorter, it is economically in context with the area – the displacement isn’t too bad, and it’s only temporary. The Lighthouse Guild is guaranteed a brand new facility.

      It’s so deep into the block that the shadows, while still present, won’t make much of a difference, and it’s a beautiful building too – probably one of the better buildings going up in the neighborhood, right next to Stern’s building on 81st street, 1865 Broadway and Waterline Square.

      Also, please don’t shut down that new Collegiate School replacement. That rendering actually looks really cool.

    3. Rob G. says:

      And there they go again!

      It’s insanity that some of our neighbors and elected officials choose to ignore the real problems in the neighborhood (crime, filthy sidewalks, empty storefronts, homeless and crazies ruling the streets) and instead would rather waste valuable time and money on non-issues like this.

      This building is a bright light compared to the other crap we increasingly have to put up with here on the Upper West Side.

      • Pedestrian says:

        So you think taller buildings will help solve the filthy streets and other problems you describe? That’s some fantasy.

        Supertalls have nothing do do with housing or quality of life; they have everything thing to do with profits for developers and creating safe places for foreign money to perch. A 725 foot building with 125 apartments doesn’t help the housing crisis but it does take away light and air from the rest of us and places significant pressure on infrastructure and fist responders. How do you deal with a fire in a 100 foot void? To all of you YIMBYs the rest of us want to keep some sunlight in our back yard, AKA, Central Park.

        • A.C. says:

          But in general, tall buildings are the way to go to solve the housing crisis. New York City doesn’t have room to grow out. 80 Flatbush Avenue is a great example of projects to be beneficial… Funding very affordable apartments with some market rate/luxury apartments and height is necessary. You want affordable apartments, building up is a necessity.

          Yes, this building doesn’t do much, but tall buildings are really the only way to supply a decent amount of housing. 606 West 57th Street is an exception to the rule because they got demolish permits for essentially an entire square block, which, if you look at many of the new buildings going up, is actually pretty rare.

          • B flat says:

            Affordable for whom, though? Because developers now determine affordability and not the city.

            And what about commercial rents in this plan? Empty commercial spaces abound as it is because, wait for it, the rent is too can high.This project is unlikely to change that.

            • A.C. says:

              B flat, I would like to kindly point you to 80 Flatbush Avenue, a good solution to the housing crisis, and the overcrowded schools, that is in danger of being panned, by the neighbors, for an as of right development that would have none of what in it.

              922 apartments, 200 permanently affordable, and can be afforded by those who make as little as $29,000 a year. The other apartments are market rate, not luxury. Combine that with office and commercial space, a new facility for Khalil Gibran that allows more students and more resources, a brand new elementary school, a cultural center, and retail, and the tallest building in the project is *GASP* 986 feet tall… Which, when you realize that if construction starts on time, the building won’t be complete until about 2025, is actually not all that tall…

              Like I said beforehand, tall buildings, with luxury apartments to fund affordable/low-cost ones is the way to go – rent cost less than 4 figures. This building doesn’t do that, and I will say this for the umpteenth time, it’s a terrible utilization of space. But leave the skeleton, and change the inside so it reflects that model. Maybe without the retail and commercial space, and it’s already getting a synagogue, but you get the idea.

        • Rob G. says:

          Pedestrian, I reread my post 5 different ways and nowhere does it say that a tall building will solve our problems. What I did say is that burning so much energy to fight non-essential “issues” like this takes the focus off fixing the real issues that affect us. Also, I happen to like the design of this building and think it will be a pretty spectacular addition to the neighborhood.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            I have several problems with Rob G’s comment. the first is the way he identifies the “real problems” in the neighborhood.”

            Rob G said:

            “It’s insanity that some of our neighbors and elected officials choose to ignore the real problems in the neighborhood (crime, filthy sidewalks, empty storefronts, homeless and crazies ruling the streets) and instead would rather waste valuable time and money on non-issues like this.”

            How can he say, with a straight face, that “homeless and crazies [are] ruling our streets”?

            I spent a beautiful Sat walking up and down Bway, from 95th to approx 103rd. Maybe i saw 2-3 panhandlers. They were certainly not “crazy” and were unobtrusive. One is a man I often give money to, as do many others. he is a vet and lives in nearby veterans permanent supportive housing — not “homeless.”

            i guess it’s possible that “crazies are ruling the streets” in the lower portion of the UWS, around 72nd. I don’t go there much. But somehow i doubt this is the situation.

            Some people seem to see problems they wish to see, whether they exist or not.

            Also, it is inexplicable that anyone can talk about “real problems” on the UWS without mentioning the crisis in affordable housing. Skyrocketing housing costs are the #1 problem for most working class and middle class New Yorkers.

            As for whether this building should be built or not: William Raudenbush, below, said it much better than I can. Zoning is planning, and Central Park is a public good. I urge people to read his full comment.

            • Rob G. says:

              Taking a stroll up the street and noticing only 2-3 panhandlers one fine afternoon doesn’t exactly exonerate the issue. Most days there are far more than that. I guess it’s easy for you to ignore the problems in the neighborhood.

              What’s even more astounding is that you seem to feel that it’s okay to enable panhandlers even though they live in supportive housing nearby. Does this somehow help motivate them to find work?

              Either way, therein lies the problem – homeless people from other neighborhoods are brought into ours, only to be found panhandling and in many cases causing other issues, right around the corner from where they now live.

              I really don’t understand how you don’t see a problem with this.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              in response to Rob G.:

              Rob G. said:

              “Taking a stroll up the street and noticing only 2-3 panhandlers one fine afternoon doesn’t exactly exonerate the issue. Most days there are far more than that. I guess it’s easy for you to ignore the problems in the neighborhood.”

              You made the statement that “homeless and crazies are ruling our streets.” that is not the case, not even close to it. many of the panhandlers are not homeless; the vast majority are not “crazy”. In fact, they’re just poor.

              People like yourself tend to exaggerate the number of panhandlers. I guess it offends you that the even exist. They exist because of the vast maldistribution of wealth in this society, where we have new buildings going up with $5 million apartments, but many people fall through the cracks.

              Rob G. said:

              “What’s even more astounding is that you seem to feel that it’s okay to enable panhandlers even though they live in supportive housing nearby. Does this somehow help motivate them to find work?”

              You simply don’t have a clue, do you? There are a few jobs with the Doe Foundation, but someone in their late 60s, like the man i regularly give to, would not be able to do such a job. He is outside the workforce and cannot get back in.

              Frankly, i find your rhetoric about “enabling” panhandlers to be sickening.

              Perhaps you might want to look at what Pope Francis said about the issue. It certainly changed my perspective. It is described in this editorial in the NY Times, entitled “The Pope on Panhandling: Give Without Worry”:


              “Speaking to the magazine Scarp de’ Tenis, which means Tennis Shoes, a monthly for and about the homeless and marginalized, the pope said that giving something to someone in need is “always right.”…

              “But what if someone uses the money for, say, a glass of wine? (A perfectly Milanese question.) His answer: If “a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that’s O.K. Instead, ask yourself, what do you do on the sly? What ‘happiness’ do you seek in secret?” Another way to look at it, he said, is to recognize how you are the “luckier” one, with a home, a spouse and children, and then ask why your responsibility to help should be pushed onto someone else.”

              In fact, my friend usually uses the money i give him to get a cup of coffee, or a cheeseburger at MacDonalds. I am more than pleased to help him with these small drops of relief. Supportive housing is a godsend, but most of the people living in supportive housing have basically no money every month for even minimal amenities… like a daily cup of coffee.

              Rob G. said:

              “Either way, therein lies the problem – homeless people from other neighborhoods are brought into ours, only to be found panhandling and in many cases causing other issues, right around the corner from where they now live.”

              so it is ok to bring rich people in “from other neighborhoods” but not the poor?

            • Rob G. says:

              I appreciate your pontification, but you’re giving Trump a run for his money on deflecting the issue.

              Giving tzedukkah to the neighborhood beggar is much different than creating a neighborhood full of beggars.

              You can choose to hide from what you see if you wish, but that’s exactly what’s happening.

      • Sherman says:

        You have to realize this building will cause giant shadows all over the UWS. The whole area will be plunged into darkness.

        I will have to carry a flashlight during my morning runs in Central Park so I can see where I’m going.

        The horror!

        • A.C. says:

          Wait, what? How would you need a flashlight during your morning runs? The shadows would be going Westward… Last time I checked, the sun rises in the East. And the shadows are greatly mitigated by the fact that it’s very deep into the block. It’s not on Central Park West…

          But again, I will say that it’s a terrible use of space… seriously. They need to change how much goes in.

    4. Pedestrian says:

      The main problem with this and many other Supertalls is that they are the product not of sound planning but of the manipulation of the zoning laws and, to put it bluntly, wrong headed and destructive “interpretations” of the zoning code that result from an anthing goes mindset that allows developers to do pretty much anything they want. We could speculate about the motives of those who allow and often incourage this kind of behavior by the DOB but it won’t matter. The perpetrators don’t care what we think. The Mayor and City Council are fine with it. How do I know? The issues of voids, phantom building plans, and other manipulation of the building and zoning laws are not new. The electeds wake up around election time and make noises about fixing the problem but never do. REBNY is powerful and can hire city staffers creating a revolving doors that spins pretty fast allowing some staffers to appear publicly supporting developers at public meetings within days of meeting with hopeful residents on the other side. It’s an appalling situation and one that should be illegal….frankly it appears to be but there is really no down side to violating the anti revolving door rule so it’s business as usual. Taxpayers pay to train them and then REBNY AND OTHERS ENJOY THEIR EXPERTISE AND ACCESS!

      Residents deserve better.

      • A.C. says:

        So what would you like in that area? Give me floors, height units, amenities, type of units, retail, all that kind of stuff. Do you want commercial/office space in that building? Here, I’ll give it a whirl

        I think the height should be left alone, maybe make the building a little bit wider too. (So leave it at 69 stories, and 775 feet.) The amenities should also remain as well, but they should change what goes on the inside. The first sixteen stories, before the terrace, should be permanently affordable. You could stick about 75-100 or so units in there. Then, from then on, stick another 125 or so luxury condos on top to help fund the affordable units. This building can do without commercial, and retail doesn’t really make too much sense either.

        So 69 Stories, 775 Feet, 200-225 units in the building, same amenities, keep the Jewish Guild’s new facility, no retail, and no commercial. They could also turn that void into additional apartments as well. The void doesn’t need to be that large. Better utilize it, don’t get rid of that space.

        It’s literally just that simple, that’s all I ask when I ask people what they want. Giving a blanket “Make the building shorter” Or “Don’t build it at all” doesn’t get anywhere, and does more harm than good, because often, what’ll come after provides less, again, like 80 Flatbush. Alloy said that if they were to build as of right, the first thing to go would be the affordable apartments, and possibly the schools. If they were to shrink below 700 feet. What they would end up building instead would be just like all the other developments going up. There’s a method to this. Come up with a thorough and detailed proposal of an alternative, and then we can get somewhere. Just know that what goes up should be at least twice as tall as what came before it, that’s essentially a basic rule of NYC construction.

    5. B flat says:

      Such an ugly building. Bleh.

    6. Genius boy UWS says:

      We don’t need this type or kind of building here on the upper West side that’s why landmark form back in the 60s to prevent the west side on what happened to the Eastside. You so good do-gooders think that such a large building is welcome to here it’s just the start of what we’ve been trying to prevent. The east side is a total mess of New York City and this must be prevented here on the upper West side for the mistakes of the Eastside.
      The people of the upper West side should be thanking us and the three others that since passed away… We started “landmark” back in 1968 because of that eye sore mess at 79th St. and Columbus Avenue. That’s what started landmark. If it wasn’t for landmark you would not of seen any brownstones as you see today here on the upper West side. If you let this building happen it’s just another step forward for what the east side is today and what the Westside will look like in the future

      • Ye Olde Englishe Teachere says:

        Dear “Genius boy”:

        OY, GEVALT!! We are still reeling from trying to decipher what you wrote!

        My sympathies to all of your poor past English teachers, some of whom must still be suffering shell-shock!

    7. W 67th St says:

      I’m generally pro-development, but this building has 215 feet of voids. That’s 21 stories of NOTHING. How is that a good use of space?

    8. Marianne says:

      What was the result of the Thursday meeting? Any progress against this monstrosity?

    9. Zoning is planning, and when the DOB throws out zoning infacor of obscure and obscene loopholes to justify these kinds of building, they make our city both more unlovable and unaffordable. Central Park is a public good, shadows impact that public good.

    10. melinda pressler says:

      This egregious construction must be stopped before it destroys the integrity, beauty & safety of our neighborhoods. What more can we do to prevent this from proceeding?

    11. Chris says:

      In 1994 the Lincoln Square Special District went through a process of passing a Zoning Resolution that addressed among other things building height. How is it that a developer can come into a community, disregard the letter and intention of an existing zoning resolution, and exploit loopholes that its elected officials and city agencies like the Department of City Planning and FDNY find egregious and possibly unsafe?