City pulls permits for Extell’s controversial Upper West Side tower

January 17, 2019

Rendering courtesy of Binyan Studios/Snøhetta

Less than two months after rejecting a challenge against the tallest tower planned for the Upper West Side, the Department of Buildings has decided to pull permits for Extell Development’s 775-foot tower at 50 West 66th Street, as NY1 first reported. In December, opponents argued that the Snøhetta-designed structure was misusing structural voids—where a building’s mechanical equipment is stored—to add height without increasing square footage. They said the 160-foot mechanical spaces were designed not out of necessity, but presumably to boost the overall height of the apartments—and their price tags. Now, the DOB has made a surprise reversal, ruling that these spaces do not meet the current standards of the New York City Zoning Resolution. 

50 West 66th street

The DOB’s Manhattan borough commissioner Martin Rebholz explained that “the mechanical space with a floor-to-floor height of approximately 160 feet is not customarily found in connection with residential uses.” Therefore, the building permit has been temporarily rescinded and Extell was granted 15 days from January 14 to respond with reasons why the permit should not be revoked.

“This is a victory not only for the Upper West Side but for communities all over the city,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in a statement. “From the beginning, I have opposed the developer’s decision to use a monstrous 160-foot void to boost the number of condos with views—and boost sale prices—while robbing the community of sunlight and air,” Brewer continued. “By ruling that a mechanical space with a floor-to-floor height of 160 feet is not an ‘accessory use’ allowed under zoning, DOB correctly interpreted both the letter and the intent of the City’s zoning code.”

The tower would have been the tallest building in the neighborhood, even taller than the 668-foot condo building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, by developers SJP and Mitsui Fudosan, which also received the go-ahead from the city despite community protests.

In June last year, the de Blasio administration announced plans to regulate the use of structural voids by the end of the year, but officials have not yet announced any planned reforms.

[Via NY1]



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