Barnett cultivates chilly relationship with developer-friendly community board

October 23, 2013 02:21PM

Despite Community Board 5’s reputation as one of the city’s kindest to developers, Extell Development’s Gary Barnett has made little headway in winning it over.

Work on One57, which kicks off bright and early at 6:30 a.m. thanks to a Department of Buildings exemption that allows Extell to get a daily head start, is only the beginning for Residents Along West 57th Street. The 1,004-foot tower’s tax break, crane kerfuffles on the site and a plan for Extell to cantilever its new 225 West 57th Street Nordstrom tower over landmarked 215 West 57th Street add fuel to an already unfriendly fire.

“I know that we need development, but I have to live in this city, too,” Ellen Kapit, a real estate professional who lives in the Osborne at 205 West 57th Street, told the New York Observer.

Barnett, to the community board’s chagrin, has not apologized for the most recent crane incident at One57. And in a rare appearance before the board regarding the Nordstrom tower, he made a point to emphasize that Extell did not need the community’s approval — only the Landmark Preservation Commission’s — to construct the tower. Thanks to the Extell front man’s approach of buying up air rights and pursuing projects on sites that already accommodate zoning needs, he is able to build as-of-right and gets to circumvent the ULURP review process.

Despite the community’s numerous frustrations, Barnett told the Observer that Extell’s relationship with the folks of 57th Street is a good one.

“I think we’ve handled ourselves at One57 well,” he told the Observer. [NYO]Julie Strickland