200 Amsterdam Avenue Prevails Against NIMBYs in Appellate Ruling, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side

200 Amsterdam Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

Yesterday the New York State’s Appellate Division, First Department, unanimously ruled in favor of 200 Amsterdam Avenue‘s developers, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, and the construction of the Upper West Side’s current tallest skyscraper. The First Department ruling affirmed the building permits for the Elkus Manfredi Architects-designed structure, which stands 668 feet tall. It also serves as a win for the City of New York, while overturning the lower court’s February 2020 trial court ruling, which had sought to retroactively apply a draft zoning interpretation calling for a reduction in height for the 52-story tower.

200 Amsterdam Avenue has been under construction since 2017 with the use of a valid DOB permit and progressed largely uninterrupted throughout the course of its timeline. The reinforced concrete edifice rises on a lot by the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 70th Street, and consists of full and partial tax lots. The DOB and Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) based permit approvals were twice upheld, on a 40-plus-year precedent that has allowed construction of numerous other buildings across New York City.

200 Amsterdam Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

The result of this ruling decrees that New Yorkers can rely on legally sound permits without fear of new retroactively enforced interpretations. The Association for a Better New York, the New York Building Congress, and the Real Estate Board of New York filed amicus briefs ahead of the November 2020 oral argument in support of the developers and the City of New York to both reverse the lower court’s ruling and to preserve and improve the economic vitality and integrity of New York’s economy.

“Today’s unanimous decision is an unequivocal affirmation that 200 Amsterdam’s permit was lawfully issued under the Zoning Resolution,” said Steven J. Pozycki, chairman and CEO of SJP Properties. “We thank the City of New York for their support in the appeal and throughout the development process. This ruling is a crucial victory for the Upper West Side and New York City’s economic recovery. We believe in the resiliency of New York City and are looking forward to relaunching sales and delivering 200 Amsterdam, which is nearing completion and on track to welcome residents this coming summer.”

“Today’s decision is not only a win for development, but also for the thousands of construction workers in New York,” said Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of New York Building Congress. “Construction and development make up the backbone of our city, and if not for today’s ruling, we would have seen a chilling effect on new projects and jeopardized the existence of already constructed and occupied buildings during an unprecedented recession. The building industry will play a critical role in revitalizing our economy through job creation and tax revenue, and we are happy that today’s ruling supports this effort.”

“As New York continues to fight COVID-19, we need predictable and transparent city regulations to create a sustainable economic recovery, especially in development,” said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “The real estate and construction industries are vital to New York’s livelihood, creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue. At a time when we need jobs and economic activity more than ever, today’s decision ensures that our economic recovery will not be undermined and affirms that New  York is open for business.”

“In order for the city to thrive, New Yorkers must have confidence in their governing agencies’ ability to implement and enforce existing law,” said Laura Colacurcio, vice president of the Association for a Better New York. “We applaud the Appellate Court’s decision to uphold the law and protect New York City’s economic development future at a time when it is needed most. Now it is time to work with our both partners in development and communities across the city toward an equitable and sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The interiors, designed by CetraRuddy, and the final façade elements, including the limestone panels, balcony railings, ground-floor fixtures, and crown lighting are set to wrap up in the first quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, SJP Properties is reportedly continuing its support of the local community’s arts, civic, and philanthropic associations, including its partnership with Lincoln Center.

Occupancy is expected this summer.

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20 Comments on "200 Amsterdam Avenue Prevails Against NIMBYs in Appellate Ruling, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side"

  1. David in Bushwick | March 3, 2021 at 8:28 am | Reply

    What a ridiculous and unnecessary soap opera. With City approval and permits in hand, it’s too late to backtrack, especially with construction so far along. Obviously new policies for all sides need to be put in place to avoid this ever happening again.

  2. Any update on construction of 50 W 66th in the Upper West Side?

  3. The NIMBYs live in a different world. Their remedy of deconstructing 20 floors would have created more of what they hate; further construction leading to even more noise and pedestrian obstructions, thus making the remedy worse than the solution. No sane judge would approve such a remedy. On the question of jerry-mandered zoning lots, this case has been enlightening and surely more scrutiny will be paid to future development projects with such odd boundaries. Everybody wins.

    • Actually the NIMBYs are concerned about their property values. With new ultra luxury high-rises being built, the value of their dated apartments drops. I mean honestly once you have floor to ceiling windows or curtain glass walls there is no turning back to claustrophobic smaller windows. Also the amenities offered at the newer constructions, the older apartments can’t compare.

      • Indeed, the NIMBYs in this neighborhood fear a decrease in their property values. Ironically, the NIMBYs in gentrifying neighborhoods fear an INCREASE in property values out of fear that poorer folks will no longer be able to afford to live there. If you’re a NIMBY, you want to have it both ways.

      • Shane C Keena | March 4, 2021 at 11:58 am | Reply

        Well, also it’s the styles of the older buildings when compared to the newer ones that are also so different, and it’s something that the owners of older condos fail to use. Older buildings do have a more intimate feel, especially when you dress it in a darker, more S&M fashion, and if enough new, luxury high rises get built, owning in an older, less naturally lit building can become far more valuable. Say what you want to about amenities and the value of not turning on your lights until 6:30 PM each day, but the best way to combat the negative stigma is to market older units in older buildings as more intimate and comfortable.

        • Given a choice between a new luxury building and an old luxury building, I will opt for the new building. Why? It’s because lots of older buildings lack fire sprinklers. Did you hear about the fire that occurred 5 weeks ago in an apartment at 65 Central Park West (not too far from 200 Amsterdam)? A long-time resident of the building had a kitchen fire, which spread to other rooms of his apartment. Sadly, he died shortly after being removed unconscious from his apartment. Unfortunately, the building lacked sprinklers, which would have immediately extinguished the fire.

          • Shane C Keena | March 6, 2021 at 11:40 pm |

            Damn, you for real? Then yeah, if I get central, automatic fire prevention amongst cleaner air quality and other benefits, of course! I will say though, that older buildings need to make those kinds of upgrades in order to survive nowadays, and if they can, they may become major draws due to their unique little quirks and intimacy, which is something many people seem to be aware they are missing.

  4. It was approved at that height. You cant go change the rules after the permits were issued, sorry nimbys.

  5. You hear that? Me neither.

    That was the pathetic sound of the world’s smallest violin, playing for all you nimbys out there.

  6. Yay! We can finally breath! This was probably one of the most stupid things to ever happen with New York City development. The building is absolutely beautiful, and it’s truly just the permits. It seems so many people just want to critisize every little thing, hoping to get their way. It’s halarious though that the one skyscraper being devoloped by Extell is ALSO located in the Upper East Side. Yikes. I have absolutely no grudge towards the residents of the area, but this is sort of silly. Hey, at least 200 Amsterdam’s head wasn’t chopped off! ?

  7. A handsome building. Some ‘super-talls’ on the drawing board could do worse than taking some cues from 200 Amsterdam.

  8. I like this building. And thank the Lawd it will not suffer a needless amputation.

  9. I hope they are putting washer and dryers in the apartments so the maids don’t have to go in the basement. Can’t understand why laundry space not included in so many buildings.

    • If you’re paying upwards of $2,000 per ft² for an apartment in a new development (like 200 Amsterdam), you’re guaranteed to have an in-unit washer/dryer. But you may want to send your maid to the basement laundry room anyway, if only to provide yourself more privacy in your apartment!

  10. Wrongly decided. The law is clear. Developers should not benefit when they pursue a permit that should not be granted regardless of whether the administrative agency improperly issues it. This opens the door for every developer to cheat.

  11. Marc, what “law”? The court unanimously ruled that the previous judge screwed up. A judge has no standing to claim that NYC can’t interpret its own zoning rules. This was never even a “controversy”; it was manufactured outrage for a few wealthy NIMBYs angry about losing their views.

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