City rejects bid to stop tallest Upper West Side tower

December 4, 2018

Courtesy of Binyan Studios/ Snøhetta

The Department of Buildings this week rejected a challenge against the tallest tower planned for the Upper West Side, as first reported by Crain’s. Community groups argued that the design of Extell Development’s 775-foot condominium tower at 50 West 66th Street violated the city’s building code, but the department overruled those objections.

Extell’s 69-story tower, designed by Snohetta, includes several empty floors in order to boost the height of the tower — and the value of the units — without increasing the square footage. It will be 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.

The challenge, filed by preservation group Landmark West and the 10 W. 66th Street Association, argued that the structural voids which give the building its height were based on a misinterpretation of the city’s building regulations. But the Department of Buildings found that the design conformed with city codes. “We carefully reviewed the community challenge, but determined that the arguments therein were not valid,” the department said in a statement.

That could change. In June, the de Blasio administration announced that it was seeking to regulate the use of structural voids by the year’s end, but there has been no follow-up since. The loophole allows developers to artificially increase the height of a building, increasing the value of units on the upper floors, without increasing the square footage.

“I’m hopeful Mayor de Blasio will still make good on his promise, via zoning changes, before [the department] approves this 770-foot building,” City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side neighborhood, said.

[Via Crain’s]


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