City Rejects Attempt to Stop 775-Foot Tower on 66th Street, As Officials Try to ‘Close Loopholes’

Photo of the construction site at 50 West 66th Street last week via 65th and 66th Street Block Association.

The Department of Buildings has rejected an attempt by opponents of a proposed 775-foot tower at 50 West 66th Street to stop the project.

The challenge was filed by preservation group Landmark West and the 10 W. 66th Street Association, and supported by elected officials including City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer. They argued that the building plans rely on a misinterpretation of the zoning code and use elements like mechanical equipment to help increase the height. We are still awaiting the details of why the city rejected the challenge.

There are “lots of upset people on these surrounding blocks looking at what their next options are,” wrote Chris Giordano, president of the 65th and 66th Street Block Association.

The project from Extell Development would be the tallest in the neighborhood, even larger than the 668-foot tower now under construction at 200 Amsterdam Avenue at 69th Street.

“We will not stop pressing this administration to close zoning loopholes that have helped lead to projects like 50 W. 66th Street and 200 Amsterdam,” Rosenthal wrote in an email to constituents.

A meeting we previously referenced about this site is only meant for the block association.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 28 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      Wait a second!

      I thought Extell specialized in Loopholes and Trashing Neighborhoods.

      Is that not the case?

      • AC57 says:

        One Manhattan Square does that to an extent. That’s really it. 535 WEA is a nice addition to the neighborhood, it’s 57th street contributions are dope, Brooklyn Point is cool, 555 10th Avenue is bland, but it doesn’t destroy the neighborhood. All their other projects contribute positively to the neighborhood. 50 West 66th Street falls under that vein as well.

      • Bill D(em) Tall says:

        Re: “I thought Extell specialized in Loopholes and Trashing Neighborhoods.”

        WRONG, as usual!

        Among Extell’s contributions to Manhattan’s skyline are:
        1. BOTH Ariel East AND Ariel West on upper Broadway;
        2. The first super-tall, One-Fifty-Seven on W. 57th St.; and
        3. The W Hotel in Times Square

        Do these exquisite pieces of modern architecture “trash” their neighborhoods? Really??

        Maybe so, IF you are filled with class-resentment, anti-capitalist attitude, or an unreal nostalgia for Olde Newe Yorke, when Houston Street was its northern frontier.

        • dannyboy says:

          Bill, I can see that you prefer buildings that are much taller than those adjacent.

          But, why?

        • dannyboy says:

          Bill D(em) Tall,

          I see that my attempt to guide you back to the discussion of the “775-Foot Tower on 66th Street”, has been unsuccessful, as your fetish with political labeling seems to have overridden your thoughts (hey, is there some kind of “tall building” fetish at work, just a wild guess absent your response).

          Well OK, Bill D(em) Tall, I will indulge you in your political fetish. I am not “filled with class-resentment, anti-capitalist attitude, or an unreal nostalgia for Olde Newe Yorke, when Houston Street was its northern frontier.” Using your categorization, I am anti-Neoliberalism, Fascism, and strongly Pro-community. Apparently we differ.

          So now that we have gotten the political discussion out of the way, can we get back to your other fetish?

          • Bill D(em) Tall says:

            Re: “can we get back to your other fetish?”

            O.M.G. — you mean my “thing” about dumpsters!…and squirrels!!…and…

            Oy, I’m ruined !

            😳 😱 🤢

    2. AC57 says:

      In my humble opinion, they could’ve utilized the skeleton of the building more. Having less than two apartments per floor plus that void is a little questionable to me. Regardless, I think this is great news. Snøhetta’s design is by far the best one going up in the UWS. I can’t wait to see what it looks like upon completion, with 200 Amsterdam Avenue. Again, could’ve squeezed in at least 50 more apartments, but that’s more a matter of changing what goes in, not what goes up. Good call by DOB.

    3. Pesdestrian says:

      Rosenthal and her colleagues have the power call the DOB to account for their sloppy and willingness to ignore the serious health and safety issues presented by this building. They should exercise their power of oversight and investigation pursuan to the City Charter Chapter 2 § 29
      Section 29. Power of investigation and oversight.
      a. The council, acting as a committee of the whole, and each standing or special committee of the council, through hearings or otherwise:
      1. may investigate any matters within its jurisdiction relating to the property, affairs, or government of the city or of any county within the city, or to any other powers of the council, or to the effectuation of the purposes or provisions of this charter or any laws relating to the city or to any county within the city.
      2. shall review on a regular and continuous basis the activities of the agencies of the city, including their service goals and performance and management efficiency. Each unit of appropriation in the adopted budget of the city shall be assigned to a standing committee. Each standing committee of the council shall hold at least one hearing each year relating to the activities of each of the agencies under its jurisdiction.
      b. Any standing or special committee shall have power to require the attendance and examine and take testimony under oath of such persons as it may deem necessary and to require the production of books, accounts, papers and other evidence relative to the inquiry. Copies of all reports or studies received by the council pursuant to section eleven hundred thirty-four and subdivision c of section ninety-three shall be assigned to the appropriate standing committees for review and action, as necessary.

      • Geronimo says:

        Care to enlighten us on what you believe are “the serious health and safety issues presented by this building”?
        Evidenced-based replies will gain extra credit.

    4. Sherman says:

      This is great news. I’m sure the tower will be a lot nicer than a giant hole in the ground.

    5. Adam says:

      These gigantors are part of the Bloomberg legacy. Once you allow one pencil building, how do you stop another, and another, and another? Answer: You don’t. There is no way of stopping the path our leaders have chosen for us. Welcome to the new normal in Manhattan.

    6. John says:

      What about shadow over park?

    7. Jay says:

      The City Councilors can pass a bill to outlaw the usage of air rights in developments at any time. They have been railing against their use for many years now, but spend more time sending out press releases than actually doing something about the thing that upsets them.

      I guess that’s because they’d rather get the NIMBYs all rattled up than actually do their job.

    8. Gerald Sider says:

      Get De Blasio out of office as soon as possible. He is totally in the pocket of the Real Estate Board, and has no concern whatsoever for the harm he does to neighborhoods.

    9. Frank says:

      “There are “lots of upset people on these surrounding blocks looking at what their next options are,” wrote Chris Giordano, president of the 65th and 66th Street Block Association.”

      There’s also a lot more people who are happy about this but don’t spend their time counter protesting. We need more residential space and this is a move in the right direction.

    10. CMA says:

      Um…did I hear anyone ask how much, if Any, of this giant beanstalk was to be sorely needed Affordable Housing?

      • AC57 says:

        That’s one huge flaw in the building: There’s no affordable housing. How they used their space was rather inefficient. Easily could’ve stuck 150 luxury, 75 affordable apartments if you subtract that void. But knowing Extell, it will either start insanely expensive or actually at a relatively modest price, like Brooklyn Point. My money is on a 6 figure base price, but it’ll probably start at around $2M

    11. J Luke says:

      Overall I like the Tall buildings as long as the building has good architectural design. There were so many ugly building put up in NYC in the 1960’s and 70’s that these new buildings will add to the area and neighborhoods.

    12. Ground Control says:

      The shadow cast by this behemoth will run all the way to Bethesda Fountain. I am wondering how committed New Yorkers are to Central Park? And why they are not outraged by all which is projected to destroy it! Is a park swimming in shadow really what was intended by Olmsted or any horticulturist? Can flora and fauna thrive in darkness? Can animals? Can people? All for another real estate bonanza intended to house a very minute number of multi-millionaires and billionaires who likely won’t live there. New York City where’s your decency? Where’s your guts? Willing to destroy our most precious park and the neighborhood around it for money and money alone!!

      • The Shadow Knows says:

        Yes, I AM “The Shadow”. Don’t know much about “evil loikin’ in da hearts of men…or women”…but I do knows about shadows.

        1. NO shadow is EVER permanent; shadows move because our planet moves, and whatever building was “blocking” the sun will NOT be blocking it a short while later.

        2. If momentary lack of sunlight were so devastating to our plant friends then why have they not plotzed during the latest extended string of gray days?

        3) Back in 2003, when the two 55-story/750-foot-high Time Warner Center towers were completed, the Professional Kvetchers began ranting that the shadows from this wealthy man’s monstrosity would kill all of Central Park’s vegetation. Seen Central Park lately? Vegetation is lush and glorious.

        –(signed) Lamont Cranston

        • Ground COntrol says:

          For your information, the Time Warner Center was delayed years in the planning by Jackie Kennedy and other protectors of the park until Mort Zuckerman came up with a design which is the current one, which would not submerge the park into darkness. Hence the double tower with break in the middle to allow the sun to stream in!! You see New Yorkers used to care about things which destroyed the quality of life and health of their city. That was before the Greed is Good mentality infested the New York psyche, now particularly coming from the big man at City Hall who calls himself a “Progressive”. He seems to have acquired a taste for real estate developers. A little knowledge goes a long way, Sir.

        • dannyboy says:

          Lamont Cranston was a drug runner who originally met, Kent Allard, the world-famous aviator, in Shanghai. There, he hired the pilot for a shipping job.

          source: The Shadow Wiki

    13. Denton says:

      So they get an extra couple of floors for he cooling towers? And that’s a problem?

    14. Elinor T. fine says:

      Once again Extell strikes!Their recent two page spread in the Real Estate section of the New York Times shows how they are changing the face of New York and in so doing, they are destroying the fabric of the city. -making it darker and unlivable- How many New Yorkers can afford to purchase an apartment in these behemoths? Once again we see that the real Estate developers own the city.- and those in a position to stop it do nothing and about the sale of air rights, closing of loopholes and the zoning that allows this to continue.

    15. Gary Owen says:

      When is enough, enough? We keep seeing high-rise condos going up all over the city, including the UWS, but that only means more people utilizing an already crowded subway and bus system. It makes zero sense to keep building without having the infrastructure to support an increased population.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Yup! Classic case of:

        Raise-the-Drawbridge; I’m-Inside-the-Castle!

        or, as the late un-lamented Leona Helmsley might have said, ‘Who ARE all these little people trying to have what I have !’

    16. anonymous says:

      Stop being NIMBY’s. Both 50 West 66th Street and 200 Amsterdam are great projects for the UWS and will hopefully usher in better housing options for those that wish have more than a standard brick facade and 20 stories. Further, this is progress and without progress a neighborhood would become undesirable and older buildings will crumble. If we did not have progress, the UWS would not even look like it does today.