Upper West Side’s most controversial tower closes first condo sale

SJP’s 200 Amsterdam prevailed last month over a lawsuit that would have seen its top 20 floors removed

New York /
Oct.October 28, 2021 12:00 PM
 

Steve Pozycki, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of SJP Project Solutions (Getty Images, City Realty)

After fending off a wrecking ball last month, the Upper West Side’s most controversial condo building closed its first sale this week — a coda to a high-stakes battle between Big Real Estate and anti-development forces waged on the city’s skyline for three years.

SJP Properties closed on its first sale at 200 Amsterdam Avenue on Wednesday, a little more than six weeks after the developer claimed victory over opponents who had sought to have the tower’s upper floors torn down.

“Watching 200 Amsterdam come to life has been an incredible experience,” SJP president Steve Pozycki said of the 52-story tower at West 69th Street in Lincoln Square.

The developer closed Wednesday on a three-bedroom condominium on the building’s fourth floor at $4.4 million, $50,000 shy of its listed asking price.

Closings on high rise towers generally start on the lower floors and work their way up to the more expensive and pricier units. SJP is eyeing total sales of about $973 million and has about $300 million worth under contract, according to the developer.

SJP, which built the tower with Mitsui Fudosan America, paused marketing apartments last year for a period of about ten months while fending off legal challenges, resuming the effort this spring.

“Since we came back to the market, we’ve seen tremendous demand,” said Robin Schneiderman of Brown Harris Stevens, which is handling sales at the tower. “We were able to bring people into the building and show them the completed model apartments.”

The drama over 200 Amsterdam began in 2018, when the Municipal Arts Society and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development filed a lawsuit claiming the city had wrongfully issued building permits to the developers.

At the center of the debate was a 39-sided zoning lot SJP cobbled together to build the tower. Opponents argued the gerrymandered lot violated zoning laws. SJP argued the company had played by the rules, which they said the project’s opponents were trying to change retroactively.

If successful in court, the challenge would have required 200 Amsterdam to remove roughly 20 floors off the top of the tower.

Both sides saw large implications for the future of the city. Opponents of the tower feared that if the project were allowed to go forward, developers across the city would be able to skirt the spirit of the zoning code to build towers where they shouldn’t be allowed.

SJP and its supporters warned that if the challenge prevailed, the rule of law would be undercut and no developer would assemble air rights for fear that a judge might come along and kill their project after they invested significant time and money.

The conflict wound its way through a series of rulings and appeals until September, when an appeals court declined to hear a challenge to an earlier ruling allowing the tower to stand as constructed.

The Municipal Arts Society, however, didn’t exactly concede the fight. The organization maintains that it is in the right, but its legal strategy was overmatched by SJP’s superior financial resources.





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