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Contested Upper West Side tower’s permits must be pulled: Manhattan BP

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The zoning behind 200 Amsterdam Avenue is in the midst of being reexamined by the city

The controversial project has faced a series of roadblocks since it was announced in 2016.
© Elkus Manfredi Architects/Seventh Art

Construction continues on a controversial Upper West Side tower, despite a state Supreme Court ruling that it may violate New York’s zoning code—and now the Manhattan borough president is demanding the city rescind the project’s permits.

In an April 3 letter to the Department of Buildings (DOB) acting commissioner Thomas Fariello, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called on the agency to halt construction on the 668-foot residential building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, which has been beset with difficulties, chiefly because of opponents who have filed legal challenges arguing that the project’s footprint is “gerrymandered” beyond the actual zoning lot. The city should have hit pause on the project the moment it was sent back to the city for review, Brewer says.

“The Supreme Court’s decision should have led to an immediate halt in the construction of 200 Amsterdam Avenue but work on the site continues today,” Brewer said in a statement. “Construction should not continue while there is still a viable challenge to this development.”

Last month, the state Supreme Court delivered a blow to the developers behind the project, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan, with a decision that overruled the city’s approval of the Upper West Side condo tower. The court ordered the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which approved the plans last year, to revaluate the building.

Meanwhile, the developers have maintained that the plan is lawful and emphasize that the “permits were exhaustively reviewed by both the Department of Buildings and the BSA, the two city agencies with the primary responsibility for interpreting NYC’s zoning codes,” the developers said in a March statement.

Vocal detractors of the project include City Council Member Helen Rosenthal, the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, and the Municipal Arts Society—the latter prompted the March ruling after filing a request for the court to nullify the BSA’s project approval in October. MAS also sought a temporary restraining order, but was told to return for a hearing on a potential injunction on April 30, the West Side Rag reported. By then construction, is expected to progress several stories toward its 51-story goal.

The DOB referred a request for comment to the city’s Law Department. Nicholas Paolucci, a spokesperson for the agency, would not say whether DOB would consider rescinding the project’s permits. Instead, Paolucci stressed that the state Supreme Court recently denied the temporary restraining order request, and although the court ruling returned the case back to the Board of Standards and Appeals, that does not negate the current permits held by the developers.

“That decision does not invalidate the construction permits for this project,” said Paolucci. “Construction is allowed to proceed under the current permits.”