Last summer, the world was introduced to the ominously-tall 666 foot 200 Amsterdam Avenue, which was slated to become the Upper West Side's tallest building. Since that original unveiling, two additional feet were added to the building to make it 668 feet tall. Despite this concession to foes of buildings that could also be portals to Hell, neighbors are still lodging complaints against the building and hope to stop it from getting built.
Upper West Side residents have taken aim at 200 Amsterdam, according to Crain's, and are getting support from local elected officials in their battle against the building. At issue is both the height of the building, and the weird way that the lot was carved out for its construction, which has drawn comparisons to gerrymandering. While residents are generally angry about the height of the building, there are also no height restrictions on the lot, so the zoning fight with the building is more about the odd lot that the developers, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, bought in order to make their 668-foot building a possibility.
The issue with 200 Amsterdam's lot is that while the parcel of land the developers bought where the building will actually rise is 10,000 square feet, they purchased a lot that allows them to build a 100,000 square foot building. That in turn allows the building to rise to 668 feet. However, the lot itself moves through a number of properties that are near the proposed building, and the thing comes out looking like a totally messed-up grabber claw. That is not necessarily normal, according to one planning expert Crain's talked to, George Janes, who's helping fight the building.
City Council Member Helen Rosenthal has signed on to a zoning challenge of the building, according to Crain's, and so has Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. In a statement to Gothamist, Brewer's spokesperson said, "B.P. Brewer objects to both the height and the bizarre lot configuration. Zoning is how we protect New Yorkers’ light and air and make development predictable. Playing games with zoning lot shapes and sizes to achieve results that plainly shouldn’t be possible under the zoning shouldn’t be rewarded."
Brewer also endorsed a letter that Janes sent to the commissioner of the Department of Buildings, in which he laid out the case for why the building violates city zoning regulations.
In addition to the contorted lot and the height, some neighborhood residents have objected to 200 Amsterdam getting to remain in the coveted P.S. 199 school district while two longtime buildings near the school would get bounced out of the school's boundaries in an attempt to lower class sizes.