Opponents of a contested Upper West Side tower refuse to give up their fight despite the project clearing a handful of recent hurdles.
Critics charge that the residential skyscraper in the midst of rising at 200 Amsterdam Avenue by developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan is being built on an illegally configured zoning lot that was cobbled together through the purchase of neighboring properties’ development rights.
Originally, the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals green-lit plans for the building on the 39-sided zoning lot last year. The panel was forced to conduct a court-ordered reevaluation in June, but again gave the project the go ahead in a move Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer called “astounding.”
Now, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (CFESD) have jointly filed a new Article 78 petition against the project, alleging that the Board of Standards and Appeals failed to reexamine the case in accordance with the city’s zoning resolution.
“The BSA’s continued refusal to listen to reason has forced us to return to the State Supreme Court on an issue that should be a matter of common sense,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, the president of MAS, said in a statement.
MAS hopes Manhattan Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry, who ordered the project back to the Board of Standards and Appeals for reconsideration in March, will overrule the BSA’s decisions and nullify the project’s approval, though the petition could result in the plan yet again being kicked back to the BSA for additional review, according to Rachel Mazur, an attorney representing MAS in the suit. A court date to hear the petition has yet to be set.
In the event the challenge fails, MAS has yet to determine its next steps, but advocates with the CFESD say they will consider bringing their fight to higher courts.
“While we are frustrated with the BSA’s resolution, we remain resolute in our continued challenge of the agency’s unreasonable interpretation of the Zoning Resolution, and will seek relief from higher courts if necessary,” Olive Freud, president of the CFESD, said in a statement.
SJP Properties said the project, which has pressed on with construction after a judge rejected calls for a temporary restraining order, is expected to top out in August and called efforts to stymie the development a “baseless challenge.”
“It’s unconscionable that NIMBYs continue to spend extraordinary funds and drain city and state resources in order to fight this as-of-right development, while only serving narrow interests,” SJP Properties said in a statement.
The developer is preparing to launch sales for the tower this fall.