Chris Giordano, president of the West 64th-67th Street Block Association, called him bait and switch. “Even if you eliminate the problem of shadows in your neighborhood and a skyline marked by a building that is too tall,” he said, “we still find that immoral. We want there to be reasonable development, but that’s not what they are doing.
Two groups, Landmark West and the City Club of New York, a nonprofit focused on smart urban development, have filed challenges with the Board of Standards and Appeals, opposing the voids and arguing that the building’s height presented a danger to the city fire department. Each challenge has gone to the state Supreme Court, where City Club has argued and won its case (which Extell is now trying to appeal) and Landmark West is awaiting a court date to plead its final appeal.
When the city’s building department asked Extell to change its design in the spring of 2019, the developer came back with a proposal that still includes three mechanical spaces that together reduce the total height of the mechanical spaces by just 16 feet, from 192 to 176 feet. .
Opposition groups claim at least one partial victory in this continuing saga: In 2019, New York City Council voted to close the zoning loophole that allowed excessive voids.
“It doesn’t smother him in the bud, but it does make things a little more difficult,” Khorsandi said. “Billionaire’s Row is 15 years old now and people are just starting to understand what’s going on there,” he said. “They’re rocking the skies and pushing the audience away.”
At 200 Amsterdam, a 52-story condominium on 69th Street, developers bought unused development rights not only from adjacent buildings but from several neighboring lots, creating a 39-sided zoning lot that critics described as “Gerrymandered” to get the height of 668 feet they wanted.
SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America have spent the past two years in court and appear to have won. The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development and the Municipal Arts Society of New York, which filed the original complaint in 2018, said the building should be downsized because the original zoning lot would not allow such a tall building. In February 2020, a state Supreme Court judge sided with community organizations and ordered the developer to remove the top 20 floors.