The Real Deal New York

SJP, Mitsui Fudosan clinch big victory in supertall battle

Opponents say they will still fight project
By Kathryn Brenzel | July 17, 2018 02:30PM

200 Amsterdam Avenue (Credit: Elkus Manfredi Architects)

The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals on Tuesday sided with developers of a 668-foot-tall condominium tower, finding that the project complies with zoning rules.

The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development had challenged the Department of Building‘s approval of the project, which is being developed by Mitsui Fudosan and SJP Properties. The community group argued that the developers cobbled together an illegal zoning lot — forming an unusual, 39-sided polygon that’s 10 times the size of the project’s footprint — to build a larger tower.

The zoning lot was formed by merging portions of five different tax lots, a move that the committee said flew in the face of the city zoning resolution (which requires the combination of whole tax lots). Public officials, including Council member Helen Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, had also thrown their support behind the zoning challenge. But the BSA voted against the committee’s application seeking to revoke the project’s building permit.

“Throughout an exhaustive DOB audit and subsequent BSA review, we have consistently demonstrated that 200 Amsterdam was meticulously designed in strict accordance to the NYC zoning code,” a representative for the developers said in a statement. “The BSA’s decision today is further validation that this building fully conforms with all requirements.”

The committee sued the developers in April, seeking to halt construction until the BSA weighed in. The developers agreed in May that they would continue with construction but wouldn’t try to use the building’s status as an argument to sway the BSA or the court in their favor.

The Municipal Art Society, which joined the committee in its lawsuit, issued a joint statement with the group on Tuesday.

“The gerrymandered building lot at 200 Amsterdam Avenue is an affront to the spirit and the letter of our zoning code,” the groups said. “We intend to continue fighting on behalf of neighborhoods across the five boroughs threatened by this dangerous precedent.”

A representative for MSA said the groups’ next steps will be announced soon. Meanwhile, excavation on the tower is complete, and work on the foundation is underway. The developers expect to go vertical in the fall.

The BSA recently handed another victory to a developer facing pushback from local groups. The board cleared the way for Gamma Real Estate to build its 800-foot-tall condo tower on the Upper East Side. In Queens, the board approved plans last month for a massive Lowe’s Home Improvement store at Ashkenazy Acquisition’s Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center. Opponents had taken issue with the closure of a movie theater to make way for the hardware giant’s outpost.