As anyone who lives in New York City knows, the process of constructing new developments is typically a long and arduous one. Before construction can even begin, a number of legal matters often need to be settled in terms of zoning and gaining approval for the plans. A couple of projects that have already been in the works for several years have recently encountered additional obstacles causing them to be put on hold.
Plans for the Tallest Building in Upper West Side Put on Hold
Plans for the construction of the tallest building in the Upper West Side are facing opposition from local residents. Located at the site of the old Lincoln Square synagogue at Amsterdam Avenue and West 69th Street, the 668-foot tower is being challenged by the neighborhood group Committee for Environmentally Sound Development. The group has filed a challenge of the existing zoning of the lot with the city’s Department of Building. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Helen Rosenthal have also expressed their support for the challenge, claiming that the building is out of context in that part of the Upper West Side.
The developers of the project, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, have created a zoning lot that includes the 200 Amsterdam site as well as all or parts of five tax lots on West End Avenue. While the developers maintain that the building is being constructed in full compliance with all zoning, those who oppose its construction maintain that this is not true. The Department of Building will have to make the final call on whether or not this project can move forward.
Lawsuit Halts Progress on West 70th Street Development
Landmarks West! Has filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to stop construction of a community center topped by condos at 8 West 70th Street. Congregation Shearith Israel, which has occupied the corner at Central Park West for 120 years, is working toward constructing a synagogue/community center topped by condos next to its current location. The nine-story, 105-foot building would house a community center featuring classrooms, a banquet hall, a kosher kitchen and space for programming. It would also be used to provide wheelchair access to the adjoined synagogue, while the top five floors would be for residential use.
In its lawsuit, Landmark West! claims the zoning variance for the site is out of context for that particular block. The lawsuit further charges that the project is really just about finding a way to gain approval for a multi-million dollar luxury condo development and not about increasing space for education purposes. Since Congregation Shearith Israel falls within the Upper West Side Historic Districty, it needed to first gain approval for the project from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which it did in December 2014. The project also received a zoning variance in 2006 from the Board of Standards & Appeals, but Landmark West! claims the plan has been amended 98 times to include a different building envelope.