Lawsuit Filed Against 200 Amsterdam Avenue

Community Groups Intervene to Stop Work at Controversial West Side Supertall

May 8, 2018

(May 8, 2018 | New York, New York) The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (CFESD) and the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) filed a request for an emergency injunction to halt construction by Amsterdam Avenue Associates, LLC, at 200 Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side.

Located on the northeastern corner of West 69th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, within the existing Lincoln Towers development, the 55-story development at 200 Amsterdam Avenue would reach a height of 668 feet if allowed to move forward. Most of the proposed floor area for the project is generated through the site’s exceptionally large and irregular zoning lot, assembled through a process of subdividing tax lots. The groups allege that the building’s size is also increased by willful miscalculations of open space and the insertion of mechanical voids.

“This building is an affront to the intention of zoning,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of MAS. “It uses obscure gerrymandering tactics to increase the height of the residential development by more than 400 feet. If that wasn’t enough, it also flouts the definition of open space by counting inaccessible parking lots and driveways toward those zoning requirements. Its construction would set a citywide precedent, with negative implications for thousands of properties across the five boroughs.”

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Aerial illustration of the gerrymandered zoning lot and proposed tower at 200 Amsterdam Avenue

CFESD first challenged the development plans at the Department of Buildings (DOB) in October 2017, with a letter of support from MAS. The DOB rejected the initial challenge and CFESD submitted an appeal to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). A hearing was held on March 27, 2018 and a second hearing is expected on June 5. The injunction is intended to stop work at the site until a decision on the appeal is rendered.

“We hope this lawsuit will be a signal to future builders that they will be required to respect the character of the neighboring communities as set forth in the New York City Zoning Resolution,” said Olive Freud, President of CFESD. “We know there is going to be a 200 Amsterdam, but we expect it to conform to the rules.”

CFESD and MAS are represented in the lawsuit by the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP and Charles Weinstock. CFESD is represented in the BSA appeal by Frank E. Chaney and George M. Janes. The suit was filed on April 25, 2018. The next hearing before the Court is scheduled for May 9, 2018.

About the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development
The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (CFESD) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989. We are an all-volunteer watchdog group, dedicated to preserving the quality of life in an increasingly dense city. Our volunteers are of diverse social and economic background, and work closely with other neighborhood organizations, community boards, and elected officials. Over the years, we have been involved in cases throughout the city—Midtown, the Upper East Side—but our primary focus has always been the Upper West Side.

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About the Municipal Art Society of New York
For 125 years, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has worked to educate and inspire New Yorkers to engage in the betterment of our city. As a non-profit advocacy organization, MAS mobilizes diverse allies to focus on issues that affect our city from sidewalk to skyline. Through three core campaign areas, MAS protects New York’s legacy spaces, encourages thoughtful planning and urban design, and fosters inclusive neighborhoods across the five boroughs.

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