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Take 20 Stories Off the Top? Not So Fast.

Upper West Side, Manhattan

Luxury condo tower, zoning loophole, 200 Amsterdam Ave., Metropolitan Art Society.

The city is fighting a court order to chop 20 stories off this luxury condo tower (image via Google Docs).

March 5, 2020

A day after closing the zoning loophole that made a 52-story luxury condo tower on the Upper West Side possible, the city has joined the building’s developer in fighting a judge’s recent order that the developer lop off the top 20 stories of the nearly complete tower, the Real Deal reports. 

First things first. Early this week, the Department of Buildings clarified that zoning lots can no longer consist of partial zoning lots – which was the case with the tower at 200 Amsterdam Ave., which is being built on a gerrymandered 39-sided zoning lot. The day after that ruling was issued, the city joined the developer’s appeal of a state Supreme Court judge’s ruling that revoked a permit issued for the 668-foot-tall tower – and ordered the height of the tower reduced. 

“It’s disappointing, and it’s not the right position for the city to take, but we will proceed,” says Richard Emery, the lawyer representing the tower’s two opponents, the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Art Society

On the other side, a spokesperson for the developers, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, applauded the city for “taking a stand against a legally flawed court ruling.” 

Carlo Scissura, president of the New York Building Congress, claims that the court’s decision “would set a dangerous precedent that unnecessarily increased uncertainty and risk in our industry, threatening already constructed and occupied buildings.” 

Emery, the opponents’ lawyer, counters that his clients are not calling for deconstruction while appeals are underway; they are asking for construction at the project to stop. To the group’s dismay, work is continuing on the building, where a number of units are in contract.

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