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Upper West Side’s would-be tallest tower will face more scrutiny

Plus, brokers find another way to circumvent the new rent laws—and more intel in today’s New York Minute news roundup

50 West 66th Street is pictured on the far right in this rendering of the Upper West Side skyline.
Binyan Studios

Good morning, and welcome to New York Minute, a new roundup of the New York City news you need to know about today. Send stories you think should be included to tips@curbed.com.

More reviews for Extell’s Upper West Side skyscraper

Two legal challenges to an Upper West Side skyscraper developed by Extell were dismissed by the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals—but a review of the building’s controversial mechanical voids will continue, according to Crain’s.

The building at 50 West 66th Street, designed by Snøhetta, was announced back in 2017, and was immediately challenged by some area residents (including the preservationist group Landmark West! and City Council member Helen Rosenthal). There’s been much legal maneuvering in the years since, with groups challenging the validity of DOB permits for the building, but the BSA ruling put those to rest.

But the BSA did agree to “separately review whether Extell is ‘appropriately occupying’ the mechanical floor space with equipment necessary to the operation of the apartment tower,” according to Crain’s. Those mechanical voids—which developers often use to boost a building’s height—have also come under much scrutiny this year.

Beware the “good-faith deposit”

Among the many ways that landlords and property managers have reportedly skirt the new rent laws that went into effect this summer: asking for a nonrefundable “good faith” deposit upfront.

The City collected stories from a handful of prospective tenants who were pressured into giving up huge chunks of cash during the apartment-hunting process, in what brokers and landlords say is a show of “good faith” after applying for an apartment. In these cases, the apartment-seekers were told that they would not get that deposit back if they were offered an apartment but declined to take it.

The Department of State’s advice, per the City: Report brokers who engage in this practice, which state Assembly member Linda Rosenthal called “an attempt to circumvent the law.”

And in other news…

  • Steven Holl’s long-delayed branch of the Queens Public Library in Long Island City gets the Michael Kimmelman treatment; the archicritic calls it “among the finest and most uplifting public buildings New York has produced so far this century.” But he also questions why, exactly, it took so long—and so much money—to build.
  • Call it de-Plategate: New Yorkers will no longer have to buy the new, widely derided license plates initiated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. A winner of the competition to pick a new license plate was just announced on September 6, but a spokesperson for the governor told the Daily News the new plate buy-in for state residents was “dead for weeks.”
  • A major renovation of Central Park’s north end is set to commence, to the tune of $110 million.
  • NYCT president Andy Byford told Gothamist that he’s not opposed to closing the Clark Street subway stop in Brooklyn for eight months to fix its creaky, terrifying elevators—one of which is actually a century old.
  • A new Siena College poll puts Mayor Bill de Blasio’s favorability rating at just 25 percent among New York voters in a recent survey. He is, as of this writing, still embarking on his quixotic presidential campaign.
  • There was a town hall in Brooklyn to address the city’s so-called “war on cars.” It went about as well as you’d expect.
  • And finally, a moment of zen, courtesy of the NYC Parks Instagram: