- A New York City Supreme Court judge has ordered a Manhattan developer to remove an undetermined number of floors from a residential tower currently under construction.
- According to community advocates, developer SJP Properties gerrymandered the city's zoning code by using a hodgepodge of land lots to build more floors.
- The developer is appealing the ruling, citing the numerous prior approvals by the Department of Buildings.
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A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled that a Manhattan developer must remove an undetermined number of its top floors from a construction project on the Upper West Side after abusing the city's zoning codes to build more stories, CNN reported.
The tower at 200 Amsterdam in the New York City's Upper West Side is in its final stages of construction, currently standing at 51 stories out of its planned 55 floors. Justice W. France Perry ordered the city to revoke the project's building permits and for the developer to remove all floors that exceed legal zoning limits. The judge also ruled that the permit for the development project never should have been issued in the first place.
In 2017, community advocates discovered that the developer, SJP Properties, manipulated the city's zoning code and achieved additional height for the tower by owning a unique combination of land lots. New York City's 1,600-page Zoning Resolution doesn't cap the number of floors for new construction height is instead determined by floor area per lot.
A joint lawsuit was filed in 2017 by nonprofits Municipal Art Society and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development who argued that the developer had illegally used a process called "subdividing tax lots" to gain permits to build more floors than is allowed in its zoning region.
Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Art Society told CNN that it's "a big deal" and unusual for part of a newly constructed building to be taken down, though it's not unique. It will be a "complex and expensive endeavor," according to the developer's lawyer, Scott Mollen. The developer is appealing the ruling based on numerous prior approvals by the Department of Buildings, according to CNN.
New York City's Department of Buildings approved the permit and was challenged in addition to the developer. The department is now tasked with sifting through the Zoning Resolution to determine how many floors need to be removed, according to CNN. A spokesman for the city's Law Department, Nick Paolucci, told CNN in an email that the city is reviewing its legal options.
Goldstein also told CNN that she hopes the ruling will be an example for other developers who might consider using the zoning code in a similar fashion.
The building's offerings include $3.1 million one-bedroom apartments and $21 million four-bedroom penthouses.
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