The 668-foot tall tower rising at 200 Amsterdam Avenue has faced stiff resistance from Upper West Side residents for years. But now that it is almost done, most of its customers are from that same neighborhood, according to the developer.
“The bulk of buyers are locals, specifically buyers from the Upper West Side,” SJP Properties CEO Steve Pozycki recently told Mansion Global, “which we attribute to the pent-up demand in the neighborhood due to a lack of construction.”
SJP and its partner Mitsui Fudosan bought the project site near Lincoln Center in 2015 for $275 million and filed plans with the Department of Buildings the following year for a 51-story, 112-unit tower that would be the tallest on the Upper West Side.
A neighborhood group called the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development challenged plans for the building with the Department of Buildings. The group said the property’s oddly-shaped zoning lot did not justify the dimensions of the building,.
The tower’s footprint spans slightly more than 10,000 square feet but uses a zoning lot that cobbles together about 100,000 square feet. The prior owners of the site accomplished this by buying up air rights from nearby properties.
The locals’ challenge enjoyed the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Helen Rosenthal, but the Department of Buildings sided with the developers in September 2017 and the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals ruled in July 2018 that 200 Amsterdam complied with the zoning.
Last March the New York Supreme Court overruled the BSA and ordered the agency to reevaluate the tower using a new method. But in June the board once again gave 200 Amsterdam the green light.
The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Art Society of New York filed a new petition against the project in July, accusing the BSA of not reexamining the project in accordance with the city’s zoning resolution.
The community groups are still waiting for a decision on their latest petition, but work on the tower has continued in the meantime. It topped out in August at 668 feet, New York Yimby reported, and sales launched in September.
Pozycki said in a statement that the developers “always anticipated that we would see significant interest from local buyers” given “the lack of new residential development of this caliber in the area.”
“It is not uncommon for there to be opposition to any development of scale in the city, and particularly in neighborhoods that are highly organized and politically engaged like the Upper West Side,” he said. “The opposition we have seen to 200 Amsterdam is from a vocal minority of affluent neighbors who have misrepresented facts to unfortunately create fear and fuel NIMBY opposition, but who seem to be primarily concerned about their views being blocked and the perceived impact that could have on their own property values.”
SJP and Mitsui Fudosan should be ready to deliver units in the building later this year, according to Pozycki.
Olive Freud, president of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, said she thought Pozycki was exaggerating the amount of interest Upper West Side residents had in living at his property.
“I don’t know of anyone who wants to move into that building,” she said, “and I’m certainly in touch with an awful lot of people.”
Freud has lived near 200 Amsterdam on the Upper West Side for about 50 years. She said she did not object to a building on the site but disliked its height.
“There’s going to be a building at 200 Amsterdam. The thing is that they faked the zoning lot,” she said. “The building should never have been the size that it is, and that’s what our lawsuit is about.”