66th Street Tower Will Have Extra Review Over ‘Mechanical Void’

The next building vying to be the tallest on the Upper West Side won its case before a city board on Tuesday, but it will receive an extra review of the “mechanical voids” in the middle of the building. Extell’s building at 50 West 66th Street is set to rise 775 feet, but has drawn opposition from some city organizations, including Landmark West and the City Club.

Four separate sections in the middle of the building — totaling more than 200 vertical feet — are purportedly meant to hold heating and ventilation systems. But they’re really a way of boosting the building’s height beyond what city rules would have allowed, opponents contend.

The city’s Board of Standards & Appeals, which rules on zoning, dismissed some of the City Club’s arguments on Tuesday, but said that the mechanical void issue should be explored further, according to Crain’s.

While the initial challenge focused on the height of the mechanical floors, the board has now agreed to separately review whether Extell is “appropriately occupying” the mechanical floor space with equipment necessary to the operation of the apartment tower..“The question before us is,” [Board Chair Margery] Perlmutter said, “when you look at the planning of each mechanical floor, is the amount of mechanical equipment shown on the drawing the amount that you would associate with a building this size?”

The city passed a law in May, after Extell received approvals, that limited the size of mechanical areas to 25 feet, beyond which they would count against the zoning area height.

“The BSA resoundingly rejected our opponent’s principal arguments regarding the legality of the building at 50 West 66th Streetwhich they have been pursuing for the last 12 months,” said a spokesperson for Extell.  “This is another frivolous attempt by politicians and opponents to undermine progress and push a political agenda against new developments which generate significant employment and substantial tax revenue.”

The next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 10 comments | permalink
    1. AC57 says:

      So… Exactly what should’ve happened is actually happening? Huh, that’s a first.

      Like I said from the beginning, shrink the void to two sections combining at most 70 feet (per Ed Bosco’s recommendation) and we would be fine. The building is still definitely going to be taller than 3 Lincoln Center and Hawthorne Park (it’ll breach 600 feet). I would guess that the new height would be around 650 feet…

      Also, I’ll regurgitate my mantra once again: the height is not the problem – it’s what goes inside that’s the problem.

      (Oh, by the way, technically, if redistributed, you could actually stick 200 feet of mechanics space into this building legally, including the bulkhead. That isn’t gonna happen, but if Extell were smart, it could. Just putting that out there.)

    2. Jonathan says:

      Thank you Ms Perlmutter!

    3. Dale Brown says:

      The height of this building is dreadful. It does not fit in with the area buildings and is really ugly. It will not only block sunlight but will have an impact on the circulation of air. This building will have such a negative impact on the neighborhood. Why don’t city officials listen to people who already live in the area.

      • The Hysterical Historian says:

        Where have we heard this before?

        Ummm…about 200 Amsterdam;
        …about One-Fifty-Seven W.57th;
        …about 220 Central Park South;
        …about Time Warner Center;
        …about 432 Park Avenue
        …and about those twin buildings on upper Broadway.

        The Lenape tribe of Native Americans probably kvetched (in Lenape, of course) about those darn “tall” buildings going up in that place sold to the “pale faces” (a little trading post called….Nieuw Amsterdam).

    4. Sherman says:

      This building should be allowed to be constructed.

      If Extell obtained approval for the building based on the laws available at the time of this approval then I don’t see what the legal basis to prevent this building can be.

      Laws can’t be changed retroactively. The US generally does not allow ex post facto.

    5. Einor Heller says:

      This whole thing is absurd. The impact on the neighborhood, which can hardly sustain what it’s got, is totally ignored.

    6. John says:

      Wait till they raze all the ABC Buildings in 4 years (that’s when ABC has to be out) there will be several more buildings taller than this one on the next block

    7. Anthony says:

      These public hearings are such a joke. the developers ALWAYS get what they want in the end. it’s a farce meant to fool people into thinking their opinion matters in the slightest. it doesn’t.

    8. Yimby says:

      After reading in the papers how there are at least 1/4 of all high-end apartments going unsold in NYC, I wonder if this will be one of casualties of overstock. Buyers of these units tend to be foreigners who are not buying here anymore, and then there’s the new tax laws that are a drag on sales. Will we end up with a bunch of empty towers?

      • B.B. says:

        NYT recently did a story which answers much of your questions. IIRC it was mentioned on WSR, but in case you missed: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/realestate/new-development-new-york.html

        Over supply has happened before in NYC real estate history several times in recent memory including just after Lehman Bros. implosion. It is one reason why banks largely have not funded much of this new development in whole or part. Rather developers have resorted to investors and other financing including floating bonds in Israel.

        Sooner or later these buildings will sell all units. How long that takes and or at what prices is currently unknown.

        Larger worry is ending up with more of what is going on already. Investors and others “buying to rent”. Condos full of renters never works out well in long run.