Court saves SJP’s 200 Amsterdam from wrecking ball
Developer wins appeal on UWS resi tower
The controversial Upper West Side condo tower that a judge ruled was built too tall may avoid the wrecking ball after all.
A New York State appellate court on Tuesday reversed a lower court’s ruling that would have forced the developers of 200 Amsterdam Avenue to remove about 20 floors from the nearly complete 52-story tower.
The appeals court rejected the argument by opponents of the tower that the developers illegally gerrymandered a zoning lot to cobble together more development rights than the project was entitled to.
“Today’s unanimous decision is an unequivocal affirmation that 200 Amsterdam’s permit was lawfully issued,” developer Steven Pozycki of SJP Properties said in a statement.
He cast the decision as a “victory for the Upper West Side and New York City’s economic recovery.” Pozycki said sales would be relaunched and the building could welcome residents this summer.
The Municipal Arts Society and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development filed the lawsuit challenging 200 Amsterdam’s building permit in 2018.
The unanimous ruling means the plaintiffs do not have an automatic right to appeal. But they can request the New York Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — to hear the case.
The case of 200 Amsterdam had captured the attention of New Yorkers, who saw wide-ranging implications from the court decisions.
Opponents of the tower argued that if it were allowed to stand at its full height, the precedent would allow developers to flout the intent of zoning laws to erect buildings out of context with their neighborhoods.
The project’s supporters, however, warned that if the courts ruled against 200 Amsterdam it would have a chilling effect on developers’ confidence to move forward with projects that received building permits.
The de Blasio administration was on the same side of the case as the developers, not so much because it favored the way they crafted the zoning lot but because the city sought to defend the legitimacy of Department of Buildings permits.
A year ago, the administration said going forward it would no longer let developers assemble partial tax lots to make a tower legal in the way that 200 Amsterdam investors did.
The Municipal Arts Society and CFESD called the decision “unreasonable” and said they were evaluating a possible appeal.
“The Appellate Division has given developers carte blanche to tell the City what a zoning lot looks like,” the organizations said in a joint statement, adding that in the past 40 years no developer had interpreted a zoning lot in the way the SJP did.
“The tactics used to create 200 Amsterdam are unprecedented, but they will become all too common if this decision is left to stand,” they said.