NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Community groups are claiming a victory in a building battle on the Upper West Side, after a judge ordered developers to take down several floors from a nearly completed 52-story high rise on Amsterdam Avenue.
Opponents of the project argue the developer used a zoning loophole, cobbling together rights from several lots to create an over-sized tower.
Construction is still underway at the tower, which sticks out well above all the other buildings, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported Monday.
“I cannot wait to be here and watch the 20 stories come down,” said Council member Helen Rosenthal, one of several lawmakers celebrating the decision by New York State Supreme Court Justice Franc Perry.
For exceeding the zoning limit, Perry ordered the developers, SJP Properties, to remove floors from the building on West 69th Street and Amsterdam.
“I think we all want a city where the law is obeyed,” Congressman Jerry Nadler said, adding, “The laws have not been upheld.”
Nadler said Perry did what others wouldn’t: The right thing.
“The victories have been few and far between but this is one of them,” he said.
This legal battle was started by groups like the Committee for Environmental Sound Development.
“I think it’s the end of these very tall buildings,” said group president Olive Freud. “We want to live in this city. We don’t wanna live in shadows.”
For now, the shadows will stick around as the developer appeals the decision, and as construction at the site continues.
NYU law professor Rick Hills, who has a background on zoning, said the developer got a permit from the Department of Buildings the same way dozens of developers have. When asked what could happen upon appeal, he said, “That’s tough. I would say there’s a 50% chance the developer will have to take stuff down, and 50% chance Judge Perry will be reversed.”
A reversal is rare. The last time height was challenged successfully was in 1991 on a building on East 96th Street. Twelve of its 31 stories were ultimately removed. Builders tend to continue building during challenges, hoping they will persevere or just pay a fine if they lose, Rincon reported.