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Contested Upper West Side tower could rise before court-ordered re-evaluation

A judge rejected a request to halt construction at 200 Amsterdam Avenue as it is re-reviewed by the city

The project has faced several obstacles since it was announced in 2016.
Elkus Manfredi Architects/Seventh Art

Construction on a contested Upper West Side tower can continue as the Bureau of Standards and Appeals (BSA) deliberates—for the second time—on whether the building’s plans violate the city’s zoning code.

A state supreme court judge rejected a request for a temporary restraining order, filed by the Municipal Art Society of New York and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, to halt construction on the 668-foot residential building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, allowing work to continue on the building as the BSA undergoes a court-order reevaluation of the project’s zoning footprint. A developer behind the project, SJP Properties, praised the court ruling Tuesday.

“We are pleased that the court has dismissed the opposition’s request for a [Temporary Restraining Order] at 200 Amsterdam, consistent with previous decisions in favor of the development by the Department Of Buildings, the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals, and the Supreme Court of New York,” said a spokesperson for the developer. “We remain focused on making continued progress on construction to deliver this exceptional building to the neighborhood.”

Opponents to the 51-story condo tower argue that the building’s zoning lot is “gerrymandered” beyond what is actually allowed by city code and have fought to stop construction as the project undergoes further review. In March, the state supreme court ordered the BSA to re-review the project—despite the board ruling in July that the plans are compliant with the city’s existing zoning laws. But critics say that new survey may be too late as construction on the building barrels forward.

“I’m disappointed that the court did not stop construction at 200 Amsterdam, which has already exceeded the height that a traditional zoning lot would allow,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “The BSA needs to decide on this issue quickly—we cannot continue to be in limbo while the developer builds more floors.”

City Council member Helen Rosenthal’s office, who represents the Upper West Side and is another vocal opponent to 200 Amsterdam Avenue, said the BSA must prioritize a swift review of the project or “delays could make an illegal project inevitable.”

“All focus now must be on expediting the BSA’s review of the project,” said Sarah Crean, a spokesperson for Rosenthal. “This should not be allowed. No developer should be permitted to violate zoning law—it undermines what is supposed to be a transparent and consistent land use process across the city.”