Politicians Urge Construction Halt at 200 Amsterdam As Legal Ruling Remains Up in the Air; Rally Planned for Tuesday


Photo by Stephen Harmon.

By Carol Tannenhauser

On Tuesday, April 9th, at 11:15 am, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and community advocates will speak at a rally at 200 Amsterdam Avenue to convince the Department of Buildings (DOB) to rescind the building permit and halt the construction of the 51-story, 668-foot residential tower being built there. This follows two court actions, the first questioning the legality of the zoning lot, and the second, denying a temporary restraining order, allowing the developer to continue to build.

Brewer recently sent a letter to the DOB urging the agency to “rescind the permits,” stating that “construction should not continue while there is still a viable challenge to this building.”

Date of Rally: Tuesday, April 9th

Time: 11:15 am

Place: 200 Amsterdam Avenue, at 69th Street

    1. Deux Cent says:

      Wouldn’t it just be easier to replace the politicians?

    2. Bill Ditt says:

      Re: “…community advocates will speak at a rally at 200 Amsterdam Avenue….”

      Scenario: An office of the DOB….
      DOB Clerk: “Master, the Burro President and Kounsill Member Rosenthal plus some self-appointed community advocates are having another rally!”

      DOB Bureaucrat: “Oh, rally? ‘Tis a rally good idea! I could rally use a good laugh!”

      Recalls:
      Court Jester: “My Lord, the peasants are revolting !!”
      Monarch (waving fingers Groucho-style) “They certainly are !!”

    3. Reg Lincoln says:

      Excellent — more community and elected voices insisting that this developer play by the rules — the Zoning Law!
      Upper West Siders welcome a legally-sized building — and will not be steamrolled into accepting an illegal plan like the current 668-foot plan.

    4. Gwen Silver says:

      Word in the Real Estate business this week is that 200 Amsterdam project is in trouble because their illegal height plan has been rejected by judge. Number of units and completion timetable now both uncertain. Mortgage lenders refusing to act until legal height is finalized. Potential buyers are looking elsewhere until resolved.
      Developer should just get legal with shorter building!

      • B.B. says:

        Have heard no such thing, besides even if it were true heresay has never stopped a building from development.

        Next you are aware that not everyone purchasing these new condos requires financing. They pay in all cash, thus your comments about mortgages doesn’t hold water.

        Indeed it was the fact so much luxury housing is purchased as all cash that in part spurred the newly passed “mansion tax”.

        Real estate purchased in cash is *NOT* subject to the NYS MTA mortgage recording tax. Hence all the moaning that these new owners weren’t paying their fair share of taxes and or other such nonsense.

    5. Jay says:

      Why don’t these representatives actually do their job for once and pass a bill that changes the zoning regulations instead of just complaining about them?

      I think we all know why… they don’t really want the issue to go away. They want to send out press releases and hold “rallies” instead of doing their job.

      • AC57 says:

        I say a zoning improvement would allow that height and Extell’s tower height to pass, but with Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requires. And buildings below 67th street cannot surpass Supertall status (984 feet, or 300 meters for those who intelligently use exclusively metric units.). Between 67th and 72nd Street, nothing above 656 feet (200 meters) and nothing beyond skyscraper status from 72nd to 96th streets (492 feet or 150 meters)

        MIH would be enforced when buildings cross 600 feet below 67th street, 500 feet between 67th and 72nd streets, and 400 feet from 72nd to 96th Streets (too lazy to convert those totals to meters.) MIH would be 25%

        Rezoning would be allowed if buildings achieve LEED silver certification, have voids that do not exceed 30-35 feet (per MAS recommendations) and have 35% inclusionary housing at minimum.

        Transportation benefits, community donations are not included.

        That’s what I think would be best. People, tell me what you think

    6. AC57 says:

      We’re squandering real opportunities here. Look at what Steven Levin did with 80 Flatbush, actually talking to everyone on both sides of the issue to negotiate modifications.

      I say call for SJP to make a 600-foot tower or so, and the same number of units but have 35 of them be affordable. Try negotiating with the developers, we can get something done. Steven Levin and Alloy is proof of that.

      • B.B. says:

        You have no idea what you’re talking about.

        80 Flatbush required rezoning permission from city which triggered inclusionary housing mandate.

        OTOH 200 Amsterdam is being built as of right, thus does not require any such approval, so no affordable component. Same reasons why you don’t see any “inculusionary” housing mandate for all those new towers in mid-town/Billionaire’s Row.

        • AC57 says:

          So what you’re advocating for is to not work with SJP? I know that 80 Flatbush had to go through ULURP, but I also recognize the process that occurred. Steven Levin, for all intents and purposes, did not have any obligation to sit down, and discuss anything with Jared Della Valle, and yet he did, and I maintain that his open discussion, with opponents, supporters and the developer is the main reason this project was able to pass: he could’ve rejected the project, but he did.

          Why can’t Helen Rosenthal do that here? Who cares if rezoning or AOR development is involved. Compromise is a beautiful thing. Has Rosenthal made an effort to talk with the developers? It seems like she has done nothing but bashing and criticizing, while actual good could come out of the discussion. As of right or not, Helen Rosenthal’s attitude is the wrong one, and so is SJP’s. Staying in corners, plotting against one another, it’s not gonna work.

          And have you ever stopped to ask why developers rarely ever want to go through ULURP with benefits, and would rather find every nook and cranny in the rulebook, and capitalize on it, stirring up a legal battle that they’re more likely to lose? Or why the only affordable housing in the neighborhood is found in mega projects?

    7. Pedestrian says:

      The rally will be nice but what would be nicer would be that the politicians, that is the local council members, taking strong steps against the DOB and the BSA that refuses to follow the law. Forcing residents to hire lawyers to litigate every agency error because Council members are afraid to do anything to irritate REBNY is just wrong! It’s expensive and as we see here even when you win you lose!

    8. AC57 says:

      I have a rezoning proposal: (For simplicity reasons, my limitations are based on height and not FAR, and only goes up to 96th Street.

      Buildings below 66th Street can not surpass 250 meters/821 feet. Buildings between 66th and 72nd Street cannot surpass 200 meters/656 feet, buildings between 72nd and 86th street cannot surpass skyscraper status (150 meters or 492 feet) and everything above 86th street cannot surpass 125 meters, or 410 feet)

      With this rezoning would come Mandatory Inclusionary Housing: anything over 600 feet below 66th Street would require inclusionary housing, anything above 450 feet up to 72nd Street would to, as would anything above 350 feet up to 86th street, and anything up to 300 feet to 96th Street.

      As many of us know, many beneficial projects come out of ULURP proposals, with projects going above these limits. To qualify for consideration, a project must contain at least 35% affordable units, achieve LEED silver status, and, if they contain mechanics voids, can not exceed 30 feet, per MAS recommendations (under normal zoning circumstances in this scenario to allow for HVAC changes, voids can go up to 40 feet)

      I would argue that is reasonable. On non-two-way side streets, the height limits would be cut anywhere from 2/3 below 72nd Street down to 4/5 down by 96th streets. Limits would also be cut by 40% for the WEA/Riverside historic district, and by 55% in the CPW historic district.

      Under this scenario, 50 West 66th Street would be required to fill that void with affordable housing, or cut it down to 40 feet, and 200 Amsterdam would undergo a 12 foot height cut, and include mandatory inclusionary housing.

      Side note: all projects are subject to environmental review, if there’s sufficient evidence that environmental impact to plant life would be severe.

      MIH would start as low as 50% AMI in 10024, 60% in 10023, and 70% in 10025 with ULURP applications and other projects that qualify.

      I say that’s reasonable. More regulation than I would normally condone, but a fair middle ground. And the rules are clear too.

    9. Roger Wolfe says:

      Unfortunately, money talks and the city is run by big real estate. Human scale and neighborhood density and transportation patterns are meaningless to the developers. Where are the supermarkets, new schools additional bus and subways service to accommodate an increase of population.

    10. Jack Bentley says:

      I continue to be amazed why Upper West Side residents get so angry about modern new buildings and the opening of new chain stores etc. From someone who has lived in modern cities across Asia, it’s time residences here understood the reality that most of the Upper West Side is old, decrepit and a dump and is falling further and further behind the rest of the world. People should rejoice at every new building that goes up and every tenement that is torn down. I live here and it’s become a crap-hole of homeless people and potheads. I’m sick of hearing these old people complain. If you don’t like tall new buildings, move to Detroit.

      • Cato says:

        What if I don’t like tall new buildings *or* Detroit??

        And if you think that “most of the Upper West Side is old, decrepit and a dump”, why don’t *you* go back to the “modern cities across Asia” you adore so much and leave the Upper West Side to those of us for whom it is home?

      • Jen says:

        Really don’t appreciate when people say “move out” when they don’t like an opinion.

      • Jay says:

        NIMBYs are everywhere, but the UWS NIMBYs have expendable money. So, that makes everything take forever because of their frivolous lawsuits.

        • B.B. says:

          Oh it isn’t just on the UWS; UES has its fair share of NIMBYs as well, and yes, they have just as much money and or free time.

          Sutton Place (that bastion of dinosaur WASPS grasping for survival) has been fighting a luxury condo tower as well. gamma-gets-green-light-to-build-sutton-place-condo-tower

          Further uptown in Yorkville they’re fighting mad as well: https://ny.curbed.com/2018/5/4/17320768/vinoly-upper-east-condo-on-stilts-approved

          Am not going to post link to New York Magazine story again, but UWS residents have been moaning about changes ever since the 1980’s.

          That being said think many either forget or are ignorant of fact large parts of the UWS from 57th right up to 96th were once considered “blighted” and targeted for urban renewal. That is just how bad things were. Yes, you had isolated pockets of relative affluence, but never the less that does not change facts on ground.

          IIRC from W79th to 95th, and from CPW to Amsterdam still remains a designated urban renewal zone. It explains why you have so many NYCHA and other such housing in that area including right off Central Park. In contrast on the UES from Fifth to Lexington you have no such issues.

          Will repeat myself again; the Lincoln Square area was zoned and has more in common with mid-town than say UWS above 72nd street.

          Were it not for difference in zoning Lincoln Center, Amsterdam Houses, and countless other high density buildings would not exist. Neither would Trump Hotel on Columbus Circle nor would 15 CPW that replaced old Mayflower Hotel.

    11. Denton says:

      I wonder how many of these ‘community advocates’ actually live in the ‘community’.

    12. Tim Allen says:

      This building is and will go up. It is NOT coming down. Nor are any of the many other similar buildings being constructed. The mayor is in bed with the real estate industry. Look at the run away construction, the preferential treatment that leads to empty stores, the unaffordable cost of housing…

      • Jack Bentley says:

        If the Mayor is in bed with real estate that would literally be his only positive attribute. Business and wealthy individuals are the two key ingredients to making great cities. Everything else (jobs, arts, etc) follows that. NYC needs more real estate redevelopment and needs to attracts more of the super-rich, not less.

    13. Yani Bradly says:

      Did West Side Synagogue, the prior owner of the land, not much care who they sold the land to?

      If they did care about the community, then it would seem that they would have refrained from selling the land to a developer who was going to negatively impact the quality of life of the community.

      Instead, it seems that they were laser focused on getting every penny they could get for the property and had no regard to the impact it could have on the community.

      • Jack Bentley says:

        And rightly so. You would have done the same. There is nothing wrong with a beautiful new building. It brings more jobs and more services and more investment to our community.

    14. Lester Saroff says:

      Just what is the objection to the building?
      Get the owner to add money to improve the 72d St subway station,as there will be more people using the station.

    15. Sherman says:

      Rosenthal and Brewer will do anything for a photo op and to pander to the entitled grouches who oppose this building.

      The building will inevitably go up and I look forward to its completion.

    16. The solution is to rewrite the zoning code for the entire city. Abolish the air rights transfer clause which allows the creation of super tall buildings. Provide an expiration date for currently active air rights transfers. Update the zoning code to deal with climate and technology change issues.

      Stakeholders on all sides will be resistant to this kind of change. The resulting codes may not satisfy everyone and may create new problems. A simpler zoning ordinance will benefit all.

    17. Godcha says:

      Height aside, is anyone disappointed in the facade so far, it looks terribly generic, like a mid 2000s rental building in Des Moines, nothing as striking as the renderings. That is the real crime here…just saying