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Contested Upper West Side skyscraper does not skirt zoning rules, says city

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The Board of Standards and Appeals has denied the application filed by opponents to halt the project

A digital rendering of a stone and glass tower in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. © Elkus Manfredi Architects/Seventh Art

The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) have announced their decision to allow the 668-foot residential building, being developed by SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, to rise at 200 Amsterdam Avenue. The decision is a blow to opponents of the contested project, who alleged that the project abuses the zoning rights of the odd-shaped parcel of land that the building is being constructed on.

Earlier this year, in what was its latest push to prevent the project from moving forward, activist group Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, led by neighborhood preservationist group Landmark West!, discovered a 1978 Department of Buildings memo that the group concluded misinterpreted the department’s own rules regarding how air rights can be assembled to allow for taller buildings. The BSA held a meeting to hear that argument for that case, however, they ultimately decided with developers, citing that the building’s proposed design does not skirt the law.

“Throughout an exhaustive [Department of Buildings] audit and subsequent BSA review, we have consistently demonstrated that 200 Amsterdam was meticulously designed in strict accordance to the NYC zoning code,” the developers said in a statement. “The BSA’s decision today is further validation that this building fully conforms with all requirements.”

But the fight to halt the project may not be over just yet. According to Crain’s, neighborhood groups are exploring the possibility of a lawsuit and Council Member Helen Rosenthal called the decision a setback, but not the final word. “We will review the details of the decision and consider our next steps, including further legal action and potential policy reforms,” said Rosenthal in a statement.