NYC condo tower too tall: Will the developers have to chop five floors off the building?

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real esatate inveerlad
Construction image from Real Estate Inverlad

The New York Times has reported on a controversial condo tower in New York City that is larger and taller — by as much as five floors –than is allowed by the city’s zoning codes, “raising the specter that the building might have to shave off some of its height, an extremely rare penalty.”

The 30-story building on the Upper East Side includes nearly 10,000 sq. ft. that the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) should nave never approved, says Manhattan borough president Gale A. Brewer.

The building on Third Avenue exposed “egregious lapses” in the city’s oversight of developments, she said.

“If the results of the investigation conclude that the floor area now constructed was in fact fraudulent, DOB must order an equivalent amount of footage be removed from the building,” Brewer wrote in her letter.

Consultants and the developer’s owner say they have done nothing wrong and will cooperate with any investigation of the nearly completed structure on Third Avenue near 63rd street.

Orlando-baed Inverland Development said in a statement that the that the company would “respect the process and defer to the DOB as it reviews its approvals.”

“We are confident that our team will address any outstanding concerns and meet all requirements to the department’s satisfaction,” a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile architect Manual A. Glass, who signed and stamped the building and zoning plans certifying they were accurate, said the DOB reviewed and approved the plans four times.

“I have been an architect for 45 years, have always adhered to a high ethical standard, and will of course cooperate with any review of my work on this project,” Glas said in a statement.

However, consultant George M. Janes said he examined the building’s approved zoning documents and the architecture’s plans, and identified the differences. The floor-area calculations on the zoning documents did not match the measurements on the drawings, in both the architect’s drawings and zoning plans, The New York Times reported.

The net effect meant extra space was placed higher in the building for condos that would command a larger sale price because of their views.

“This building is too big, and it was purposefully too big,”  Janes said in an interview. “I review things all the time and discover mistakes, but nothing like this. This was purposeful deception.”

The building topped off last year, but the project is unfinished because the city ordered construction to stop in January after debris fell from the site onto a nearby building, injuring at least one person.

If the city ultimately concludes that the building will need to be shrunk, it will be the first time since 1991 this has happened. Then, a developer was ordered to reduce a 31-story building on East 96th Street to 19 stories.

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