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NYC to Appeal High-Rise Demo Ruling

Monday, March 23, 2020

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New York City is appealing a recent New York State Supreme Court decision that would force developers of a nearly complete Manhattan high-rise to demolish 20 floors of a a zoning dispute.

What Happened

NYC’s Department of Buildings and Board of Standards and Appeals were named as codefendants in the originally July 2019 lawsuit, as well as the developers.

The lawsuit alleges that the entities behind the 52-story 200 Amsterdam condo building illegally combined partial tax lots (which did not allow for a 52-story high-rise) to form a new zoning lot permitting the building.

The complaint was originally brought by the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Art Society of New York, and alleged that the DOB was incorrect in its decision to issue a permit for the building because the property sits on a "gerrymandered zoning lot" of six existing lots in order to meet zoning requirements.

The lawsuit said both the DOB and the BSA, which upheld the DOB's decision to issue the permit, were wrong in their interpretation of zoning laws and contradicted a previous New York State Supreme Court order.

The developer—a joint venture between SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan American—argue, though, that NYC zoning regulations cap the height and square feet of new construction per tax lot, which can be combined, according to a 1978 memo from the DOB’s Acting Commissioner Irving E. Minkin.

New York State Supreme Court Judge W. Franc Perry agreed with the plaintiffs, and last month ordered the DOB to revoke the building permit and for the developers to remove all floors that exceed the zoning limit—about 20 floors.

The Appeal

Before issuing the appeal, the DOB issued a clarification of its zoning rules at the beginning of this month, which actually prevents owners from using partial tax lots when forming a new zoning lot.

While the new policy went into effect immediately, it was not retroactive, therefore the city is now appealing the ruling, saying that the 200 Amsterdam permit is legal.

“We closed the loophole that allowed the developers of 200 Amsterdam to legally gerrymander a 39-sided zoning lot to construct a luxury tower,” said City Hall spokesperson Jane Meyer in a statement.

“Now, we are challenging the judge’s ruling that the building violated zoning laws. It is the City’s responsibility to fix flawed policy—not the Court’s—and we must appeal this decision because of its far-reaching implications for how policy is shaped.”

If developers are forced to dismantle the high-rise, they could face serious financial repercussions in addition to the danger of executing a partial high-rise demolition in Manhattan.



Tagged categories: Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Demolition; Good Technical Practice; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Regulations

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