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Contentious Upper West Side condo addition is halted, for now

Plans called for a 10-story condo to be built atop an existing seven-story rental

Courtesy of PBDW Architects

Plans to plop a 10-story condo on top of an existing seven-story apartment building on West End Avenue, between West 94th and 95th Streets, have been put on hold for now, a likely reprieve for residents of the apartment building, many of whom have been opposed to the development.

The city’s Department of Finance has rejected an application on part of the developers, SJP Properties and P2B Ventures, to create a separate tax lot for the building. Earlier, the city’s Department of Buildings had approved the quirky design of the condo, the bottom floor of which would have hovered 80 feet above ground.

Right from the time that the development was announced, just over two years ago, many of the residents in the existing structure at 711 West End Avenue, had been opposed to the development, and the local City Council member, Helen Rosenthal, had launched a campaign to block the development.

“Tenants of residential buildings throughout New York City could find themselves in a similar situation, where developers will literally seek to build on top of them to build luxury housing,” Rosenthal said in a statement after the DOF’s recent decision. “This kind of construction raises numerous serious public safety and development process concerns.”

By Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

The existing apartment building has 144 apartments, most of which are rent stabilized. The developers knew they had to take a creative route to build their desired project and so they decided they would place multi-ton support columns around the structure to hold up the condo building. The condo itself would have sat atop a concrete and steel platform built on these columns.

Shortly after the plan was announced residents had expressed concerns about potential damage to their apartments during the construction process, and in the future. The two buildings would have been completely separate with the condo six feet above the rental—though the two structure would be connected through an elevator shaft and fire stairs.

The developers had also promised the existing tenants new amenities like a landscaped terrace, a roof deck, and new central heating and air condition, along with new windows. In September, news emerged that the building facade had cracks. Residents claimed that the owner was slow in carrying out repairs, and that a new structure on top would further burden the existing building.

For now the city seems to be in agreement with residents, but it remains to be seen if this project will still move forward eventually.

Update: SJP Properties and P2B Ventures as 305 West 95th Street Developer LLC have issued the following statement:

The Department of Finance’s (DoF) recent feedback is part of our ongoing discussions to determine a tax assessment and billing configuration for this project that works with DoF's property taxation system. We believe having two separate tax lots would be most consistent with the technical configuration of the permitted new building as well as the existing building. However, we remain in active discussions with DoF and are fully committed to a simple tax solution and to delivering this progressive development safely and professionally.

To be clear, the feedback from DoF does not imperil the construction of additional residences above 711 West End Avenue. However, it does challenge the development team’s ability to offer the same level of rent concessions to residents and enhancements to the existing building that are intended under a separate tax lot proposal. The project as planned will result in significant upgrades to the building and its residents’ apartments, while simultaneously introducing new condominium housing and preserving rent-stabilized housing on the Upper West Side.

We have assembled a world-class team committed to ensuring adherence to the highest standards for safety and quality at every stage of this process. We look forward to sharing the details of these plans with all residents.