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Contested Upper West Side tower earns city board’s approval—again

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The board upheld its initial ruling in favor of the project’s developer

The project is in the midst of construction.
Elkus Manfredi Architects/Seventh Art

A disputed Upper West Side tower cleared a major hurdle Tuesday after receiving the green light from the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals—for the second time.

The board upheld its 2018 ruling siding with the developers of a 668-foot residential tower rising at 200 Amsterdam Avenue. The development, once set to become the neighborhood’s tallest tower, has become a lighting rod for the debate over development on “gerrymandered” zoning lots.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called the ruling a slap in the face to advocates, who have pushed back against the project through a lengthly legal challenge.

“200 Amsterdam is an affront to the Zoning Resolution and I’m extremely disappointed that the BSA upheld their support for the project,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer tweeted after the decision. “The reluctance to follow the letter of the zoning is astounding, especially when the DOB has acknowledged that the zoning lot is problematic.”

Opponents of the development argue that it violates the city’s zoning code because the proposed development stretches beyond the actual building site, in what advocates have come to call gerrymandered lots. Those opponents include a handful of neighborhood groups and a trio of elected officials: Brewer, City Council member Helen Rosenthal, and state Assembly member Linda Rosenthal.

In March, State Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry 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 condo tower. The court ordered the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which approved the plans last year, to revaluate the building.

Opponents sought temporary restraining orders to prevent the structure from rising, but were unsuccessful. Tuesday’s ruling in favor of the project for the second time reinforced the developers’ argument that the tower, which has already risen 40 stories, is legally allowed to rise.

“The zoning for 200 Amsterdam has been consistently interpreted for more than 40 years. Three completed buildings on the same block have the exact same zoning. While we’re pleased with today’s BSA decision, it’s unconscionable that opposition has continued for this long,” SJP Properties said in a statement. “This opposition campaign blatantly ignores the laws that govern real estate development in New York City, and wastes resources that would be better spent on helping those who really need it.”

The developers expect the tower to top out this summer.