DDG faces scrutiny over UES zoning “gymnastics”

Developer wants to build 521-foot tower at 180 East 88th

A rendering of DDG's 180 East 88th Street
A rendering of DDG's 180 East 88th Street

With land in Manhattan hard to come by, developers have grown accustomed to combining lots and tapping unused air rights in order to construct high-rise towers. But one developer, DDG, is facing pushback from elected officials and preservationists for doing just that at the site of its proposed 32-story condominium on the Upper East Side.

As a result, the city has stopped work at the site, at 180 East 88th Street, and sales have halted as the developer awaits approval for revised building plans, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The brouhaha started not long after Joe McMillan’s firm paid about $70 million to combined several small lots on Third Avenue and East 88th Street. It later filed plans for a 48 unit-building with a projected sellout of $308 million.

DDG [TRDataCustom] first sought to carve out a four-foot-wide Lot On East 88th Street — a move that allowed it to circumvent city restrictions that limit the height of structures between two low-rise buildings.

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But shortly after work began, preservationists pushed back against the construction and the city issued a stop work order.

Zoning expert George Janes — hired by a local preservation group — called DDG’s maneuvers some of “the most amazing zoning gymnastics I have seen in a long time.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told the Journal that DDG has no one to blame but itself for its conundrum. “This developer’s response to getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar is to just reach for the cookie again,” she said, a charge the firm denies.

DDG recently proposed a 10-foot-wide lot on East 88th. The city is reviewing the proposal. [WSJ] — E.B. Solomont