Last Thursday, a judge issued an extraordinary court order requiring the deconstruction of 20-some floors on a Upper West Side condo tower. While the developers have already announced plans to appeal, the decision has renewed hopes for opponents of similar supertall towers elsewhere in Manhattan.
City Council Member Ben Kallos, whose district covers much of Midtown East and the Upper East Side, told the New York Post that his office is going to file a motion to reargue a zoning exemption for Gamma Real Estate’s 430 East 58th Street, using the UWS decision as a basis.
“We’re relying on the judiciary to enforce the law even if the Department of Buildings or the developers don’t think it applies to them,” Kallos said. The council member would like to see the condo tower’s height reduced from 847 feet to less than 400, an even more drastic reduction than that facing 200 Amsterdam Avenue.
Mitsui Fudosan and SJP Properties initially secured zoning rights for their 51-story development on the Upper West Side by piecing together several separate parcels connected by thin slivers of land and buying air rights from nearby properties.
But the city’s approval for the project was put in jeopardy last March, when the state Supreme Court ordered the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to re-evaluate it. Marketing at the 112-unit project is well underway, but will evidently be complicated by the ongoing litigation.
While orders to remove constructed floors from a building are extremely rare in New York City, the latest decision is not without precedent.
Back in 1991, following years of legal wrangling, developer Laurence Ginsberg agreed to cut his 31-story tower at 108 East 96th Street down to just 19 floors, in a painstaking process that took about three months. Ginsburg had originally argued that his project was allowed due to an error on the zoning maps. [NYP] — Kevin Sun