Manhattan tower could lose top 20 floors, court rules

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A New York State Supreme Court judge has ruled that as many as 20 floors or more must be taken off the top of the almost-completed 52-storey condo tower at 200 Amsterdam Avenue tower in Manhattan.

The decision is a major victory for community groups opposed to the project on the West Side, north of 61st Street.

An Article 78 proceeding was brought by the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (CFESD) and the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) against the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), argued that the 39-sided lot that gave rise to the tower is in violation of zoning and should never have been approved.

The developer, Amsterdam Avenue Redevelopment Associates, chose to continue to build in the face of this ongoing legal challenge. The building topped out at 668 feet in August 2019 and Justice Perry has now ordered the BSA to compel the developer to remove enough floors to bring the building into compliance with the Zoning Resolution.

“We are very gratified that after a long fight, the gerrymandered zoning lot at 200 Amsterdam has been declared illegal. This groundbreaking decision averts a dangerous precedent that would have ultimately affected every corner of the city,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS).

“The directive to partially demolish the building is appropriate given the willingness of the developer to ignore every sign that their project was inappropriately scaled for the neighborhood and based on a radical and wildly inaccurate interpretation of the Zoning Resolution.”

Last Thursday, Justice W. Franc Perry ordered the New York City Department of Buildings to revoke the building permit for the tower and deconstruct all floors exceeding the zoning limit.

“We hope this decision will be a signal to the development industry that the days of flouting the zoning code in search of greater heights and bigger profits is over,” said Olive Freud, President of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (CFESD).

“Any New Yorker walking past 200 Amsterdam today can tell this building is grossly out of scale with the neighborhood. The BSA and Department of Buildings failed to hold this project accountable, leaving us no choice but to go to court.”

In a statement, developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan told The Associated Press they will appeal the decision “vigorously in court.”

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