By Cat Schneiderman
There was a celebration next to the shadow of 200 Amsterdam Avenue at 69th Street on Monday morning — because that shadow may soon get smaller.
Elected officials and Upper West Side residents gathered right next to the building to praise Judge W. Franc Perry’s decision to order the city to rescind the site’s building permit. Perry also ruled that the developers, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, must remove already completed floors from the building to adhere to zoning regulations. The 668-foot-tall structure is the tallest building above 61st Street, and opponents say the developers created an enormous out-of-context zoning lot that should never have been allowed.
“This is a residential area, this is our home,” said Olive Freud, President of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, who worked alongside the Municipal Arts Society to bring the suit against the developers. “We don’t want to live in shadows.”
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents New York’s 10th congressional district, joined Freud and her fellow activists to condemn the zoning tactic. He spoke about the growing inequality that high-rise buildings perpetuate. “This city must be a city for all types of people,” Nadler said. “It cannot be a ghetto for only rich people.”
Nadler and others reminded the crowd that this is only the second time in the city’s history in which a building has been forced to remove completed floors. “Off with those stories!” Nadler joked, invoking Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts. “Off with those floors!”
“It was up to a court judge to say that the law is on the side of the people,” said City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side. “I can’t wait to be here and watch the twenty stories come down,” she added.
Other elected officials, such as Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal also spoke.
Although the press conference was held as a celebration of the ruling, the developers are planning to appeal Judge Perry’s decision. Directly behind the officials, on the side of 200 Amsterdam, a construction elevator moved up and down the building, continuing its work above the fray.