Last time we checked in on 200 Amsterdam Avenue, a planned 668-foot tower that would be the tallest building on the Upper West Side once completed, Upper West Side residents were calling foul based on what they said was a "gerrymandered" lot that allowed the building to rise to its planned height. The Department of Buildings has now found that objection persuasive enough to halt work on the building until a longer review can be completed.
"I believe the zoning challenge shows clearly that the proposal does not add up in terms of open space," Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who represents the district where 200 Amsterdam Avenue would go up, said in a statement praising the DOB's decision. "This accounting should have been included from the very start."
The DOB slapped the building with a Notice of Intent to Revoke, according to Rosenthal's press release, and work will only continue if the building passes a full audit investigating whether the proposed development conforms to the city's Open Space requirements.
The challenge to the building's construction centered on whether or not the air rights from a number of nearby lots acquired by developers SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America add enough square footage for 200 Amsterdam Avenue to go from 10,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet. Rosenthal, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and some neighborhood activists didn't think so. One activist in particular, Olive Freud of the Committee for Sound Environmental Development, hired urban planner George Janes to study the lot, which led to the discovery of the wonky shape of 200 Amsterdam's lot.
"We need to stop rewarding developers who play games with lot shapes and sizes to achieve results that plainly shouldn’t be possible under the zoning," Brewer said in a statement following the decision. "I thank the Department of Buildings for its ruling that the so-called open space at this site does not meet the Zoning Resolution's standards for open space."
SJP Properties did not respond to a request for comment.