By Carol Tannenhauser
Developers have continued constructing a 51-story apartment tower on Amsterdam Avenue and 69th Street despite a March 14th court ruling that placed the legality of their building permit in question. On Tuesday, two nonprofits tried to stop the construction, but were denied a temporary restraining order (TRO) by the New York State Supreme Court and told to return for a hearing on a preliminary injunction on April 30th.
By then at least four more stories will have been added to the more than 20 that have already been built at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, according to estimates cited in the motion for the TRO. “The Owner’s indifference to the [zoning lot’s] illegality is…illustrated by its actions since the Court’s decision,” the motion read. “…in effect, the Owner is now continuing construction without a legal zoning lot. It has redoubled its efforts to complete the building, in disdain of the controlling law.”
Katie Rosenfeld, an attorney who represents the plaintiffs — the Committee For Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Art Society of New York — further explained their point of view in an email to WSR.
“The Court conveyed its view that the Zoning Resolution — properly applied — does not allow for this type of zoning lot, but out of respect for the BSA, Justice Perry gave the agency the opportunity to get it right on remand,” Rosenfeld wrote. “The BSA should not take another year to decide the case, which would allow the Owner to finish the illegal building and circumvent the Court’s ruling; the BSA needs to decide the issue and allow the parties to move forward to protect their rights.”
In an earlier email to WSR, SJP Properties wrote:
The development team for 200 Amsterdam has followed the law completely and continues to make construction progress….200 Amsterdam’s zoning permits were exhaustively reviewed by both the Department of Buildings and the BSA, the two city agencies with the primary responsibility for interpreting NYC’s zoning codes. Following thorough analysis and public testimony, both agencies determined that the building fully conforms with the city’s zoning laws.
Olive Freud, president of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, expressed disappointment at the Court’s denial of the TRO — but also renewed her commitment to the cause. “If, as they say, the gerrymandered zoning lot is illegal there should be no further construction until the Developer has submitted a legal zoning lot,” Freud argued. “Every elected official and community organization has supported us. We will persevere hopefully through the courts, but maybe it is public demonstrations that are necessary.”
Meanwhile, SJP builds.
Correction: Because of an editing error, this story initially said incorrectly that the building would be 55 stories.