Developers SJP and Mitsui Fudosan are cheering a decision by the city to appeal a court decision to chop the top 20 stories off of their Upper West Side luxury tower, 200 Amsterdam.
The decision came after a judge last month sided with neighbors opposed to the skyscraper who accused the owners of flouting zoning rules regarding partial lots to create the supertall.
But since then, the Department of Buildings continued to allow work on the nearly completed project and a brief memo the department issued on Monday clarified that a newly formed zoning lot may not consist of partial lots unless permission was obtained before the issuing of that memo. The New York City’s Law Department also filed a notice of appeal.
The DOB and the Law Department referred questions to City Hall, where a spokesperson said while the city was fighting the court decision, that doesn’t mean it endorses the frankensteined lots that the developers used to build so high.
“We closed the loophole that allowed the developers of 200 Amsterdam to legally gerrymander a 39-sided zoning lot to construct a luxury tower,” said mayoral spokesperson Jane Meyer. “Now, we are challenging the judge’s ruling that the building violated zoning laws. It is the city’s responsibility to fix flawed policy — not the Court’s — and we must appeal this decision because of its far reaching implications for how policy is shaped.”
Meyer added that while the developers managed to turn a 39-sided lot into a new zoning lot in order to erect one of the tallest buildings in the neighborhood, other owners shouldn’t get any ideas about trying this again in the future.
The change, while in effect immediately, is not retroactive, according to City Hall.
Previously, developers were able to combine partial tax lots to create a new zoning lot, as was done with 200 Amsterdam. At this time, the city isn’t aware of how many projects this will impact but doesn’t expect that it will be a large number.
Prior to the appeal, the developers had vowed to appeal the court’s decision themselves — and still plan to — saying it flew in the face of the prior DOB decision and a decision by the Board of Standards and Appeals to uphold it.
The 668-foot building topped out last September with prices for its 112 residences ranging from $2.6 million to $40 million.
In a written statement, the developers said, “We applaud Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Corporation Counsel for taking a stand against a legally flawed court ruling that seeks to apply a new policy, not adopted until after the court handed down its decision, retroactively to a project that has been already built, with zoning that has been approved and consistently upheld by the Department of Buildings and Board of Standards and Appeals, the city agencies with the highest authority on zoning.”
They added, “Zoning regulations should be interpreted and enforced lawfully and transparently through the proper administrative and legislative process. Without that, New York City’s economic growth will suffer at a time when the City is already facing a critical housing shortage. We will continue to vigorously appeal this ruling in partnership with the City and are confident that the facts and justice will prevail.”
Carlo Scissura, the CEO and president of The New York Building Congress, also said the city’s appeal was the sensible thing to do.
“New York is not strong without a strong building industry,” said Scissura. “The City’s decision to appeal the recent ruling on 200 Amsterdam is the right choice to protect our economy and New York’s reputation as a leader in building and development. The ruling would set a dangerous precedent that unnecessarily increased uncertainty and risk in our industry, threatening already constructed and occupied buildings, as well as recent gains in job growth and investment. The stay on this ruling will not only allow us to move forward as an industry and preserve the more than 350 construction jobs on site, but it will help renew and restore confidence in the authority of the Department of Buildings and the Board of Standards and Appeals.”