Regressive NIMBYS Attempt To Halt 200 Amsterdam Avenue As Pile-Driving Begins, Upper West Side

200 Amsterdam Avenue200 Amsterdam Avenue Crown, design by Elkus Manfredi

Construction is progressing quickly at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, where a 51-story, 668-foot tall skyscraper will soon rise. When first announced, the building was to become the tallest skyscraper on the Upper West Side. That title was lost when Extell announced plans for 50 West 66th Street, a particularly striking 775-foot tall residential building designed by Snøhetta. But even the area’s second-tallest is too much for local NIMBYs, and with excavation work on the project now making rapid headway, opponents have begun engaging in increasingly deranged efforts to hoist a wall of red-tape around the southern blocks of the Upper West Side.

Neighboring sites to 200 Amsterdam Avenue

Neighboring sites to 200 Amsterdam Avenue

News of the worsening absurdity first broke March 9th, when assistant general counsel of the DOB, Michael Zoltan, wrote to the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) that the DOB’s approval of building permits for 200 Amsterdam was founded on an inaccurate interpretation of zoning lot rules. The confusion came from an old memo that was in the process of being revoked, meaning the approval was legal at the time of processing.

The error was revealed in an extensive review and rigorous audit of 200 Amsterdam’s zoning lot composition, spearheaded by outraged local NIMBYs. After admitting error, Zoltan requested that the Board affirm the DOB’s ruling regardless, on the basis that “the Department is prohibited from acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner.” In other words, since approvals were already granted, the DOB is limited from intervening, as it could rightfully be interpreted as cherry-picking, which could have larger implications for the city’s economic and real estate community.

220 Amsterdam Avenue Construction, image by Chused

220 Amsterdam Avenue Construction, image by Chused

According to Westside Rag, attorney Frank E. Chaney of Rosenberg & Estis is preparing to appeal the approval of the permit with the BSA at a public hearing. It is an unusual situation where the DOB has admitted an error. However, with an hourly retainer likely at stake and wealthy regressive NIMBYs capable of footing whatever the eventual legal bill may be, the battle will apparently continue. Chaney told WSR the following:

As it stands now, the DOB basically agrees with our argument that the definition of a zoning lot was incorrectly interpreted by the DOB in prior rulings,” he explained, “that zoning lots should not consist of bits and pieces of various tax lots as 200 Amsterdam does. But they still think the building permit should not be revoked, because it wasn’t incorrect when they approved the zoning lot.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer spoke with WSR, saying, “I don’t think there’s ever been a case where the developer has so deliberately flaunted the intent of the Zoning Resolution in order to build what would be the tallest building on the UWS,” she said. “It seem to us that 200 Amsterdam is arbitrary and capricious. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t correct a mistake and not make an even bigger mess. There’s a mountain of evidence that justifies changing the interpretation right now.”

Brewer has previously prevented new schools from being built on the Upper West Side, so keeping out new residents should hardly be a surprising goal for a politician whose reign has been premised on ensuring Manhattan’s housing and education system become increasingly exclusionary.

While tyranny of the minority is an increasingly prevalent problem in American democracy, turning the blocks of a neighborhood that has traditionally welcomed newcomers into something that is quite the opposite is more impactful than vague promises for walls along the border with Mexico. Though the building stock of 200 Amsterdam may be rather high-end, the same principal is extended by NIMBYs to any new developments, and the real rhetoric against outsiders and newcomers from residents of the Upper West Side is more impactful than the tentative plans for border walls that are bantered about in Washington. In this regard, New York is as bad or worse than any Red State when it comes to truly “deplorable” political behavior.

200 Amsterdam Avenue

200 Amsterdam Avenue, design by Elkus Manfredi

Arguments against 200 Amsterdam are a weak attempt by a group of ignorant moneyed regressives to derail a new development. While these NIMBY groups will ultimately meet the inevitable fate of demographic obsolescence within the next decade or two, it seems the intervening years will entail fights with increasingly bold mini-tyrants like Brewer.

Fortunately, the hot air of hatred has been no obstacle to excavation, which continues apace, and the first pilings are also being laid. Elkus Manfredi Architects is responsible for the building’s design, with CetraRuddy responsible for interiors.

Once complete, the project will bring an estimated seven million dollars per year in property taxes. Opening is expected by 2020.

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38 Comments on "Regressive NIMBYS Attempt To Halt 200 Amsterdam Avenue As Pile-Driving Begins, Upper West Side"

  1. Please pardon me for using your space: Developments attach arguments, but your report must continue. (Thank you)

  2. Wow–the author of this sounds like a Donald Trump on a twitter rampage! More power to the “NIMBY’s” who are trying to keep NYC livable and enforce the rules of law. New York should not suffer because of a “mistake” by the DOB. Bravo to Gale Brewer for standing up in the face of your hot-headed rhetoric.

  3. Spence Halperin | March 28, 2018 at 9:45 am | Reply

    I think this article is uncharacteristically angry, political and demeaning. “Deplorables?” “Ignorant moneyed regressives?” I have enjoyed reading NY YIMBY because it has provided good information. I am not a YIMBY or a NIMBY… just a person interesting in learning the facts so I can decide for myself. I don’t need to be ridiculed.

  4. My my my, what a viscious piece of writing.
    Regressive, deranged, deplorable, ignorant….
    It’s really beneath YIMBY’s standards to print suchan excuse for jounalism. I expect better of you.
    Before accusing others of the “hot air of hatred” look in the mirror, dear author, before it melts.
    It seems that the true “tyranny of the minority” that is “an increasingly prevalent problem in American democracy,”
    is the greed of outside developers and the super-rich that destroys neigborhoods while ignoring the very real problems of rampant overbuilding and congestion. Quite simply, yes, a community and its people have the right – and the duty – to determine their future.

    • 200 Amsterdam has all necessary approvals and is within all rules. The intersection has long been under-utilized relative to its potential and the fight is being led by a bunch of people in commie-block style housing to the west that is the most anti-urbane stretch of the entire neighborhood. The people behind these efforts are motivated by greed, and greed alone.

      • No Nikolai, it doesn’t! The ability of the public to challenge the issuance of a permit or permits is part of the process. When challengers are correct, as they are here, the permits should be revoked. The only thing strange about this particular development is that the permits haven’t been revoked!

  5. Katherine O'Sullivan | March 28, 2018 at 10:31 am | Reply

    This is BS of the lowest order. Who exactly is expected to occupy this out-of-context monster? The absent global elites?

    • “Out of context” is what the called Lincoln Towers and Lincoln Center (perhaps, maybe, even in more stronger terms) when they were being built, as well as the development over the years of Broadway in the same neighborhood, things taken for granted today.
      Should we never look to the future, and only keep the status quo?

  6. I’m confused by the writing. Is the lot legal or not? If not let it go through the legal process. If it is legal, let it rise.
    But I agree with the others here. The tone of the writing is atrocious and not becoming of a professional. I doubt this attitude will gain you new supporters and might cost you a few.
    Respect for all!!

  7. Was that article written by he developer by chance? Gale Brewer sounds like she is trying to stop an erroneous development and not double down on mistakes. That building will cast shadows for generations and forever change the UWS. There developer gambled by creating zoning lots that did not align with tax lots. There was a reason no other developer tried that— it is absurd!

  8. todays luxury housing becomes tomorrow’s affordable housing. Build it – people will move in/up from older units which will become available and less desirable, therefore less expensive. People can cash out and it will be a trickle up effect and create more housing overall. All of these added residences will also ultimately make the neighborhood better by attracting more retail, etc.

  9. Peter fitz Peter | March 28, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Reply

    cant believe there going another 60 ft into the ground :(( on the other hand there serious operators won’t take them boys long #digdigsaidthepig#

  10. I don’t care what anyone says, this is indeed a very beautiful and architecturally compelling building. Build it.

  11. I hope this guy doesn’t consider himself a “journalist.” I don’t have time to walk him through the obvious reasons subdividing tax lots is a terrible, chaos inducing practice that the DOB was right to end. His claims that the UWSiders that fight tooth and nail for their quality of life are somehow in the minority is adorable in its naivete and break from reality. Well, that’s a Trumper for ya.

    If UWS wanted to live downtown, they would live downtown. I think the author would be more at home writing about the Long Island City skyline. Perhaps more in line with his aesthetics and what eh considers elegant.

  12. When the author feels he has to deal in ad hominem attacks to make his point one knows who is ignorant.

    The permits for this building were inappropriately and illegally issued. They were and are invalid. The DOB can only do what the statute allows.. the statute doesn’t allow the merger of portions of tax lots. The DOB agrees. That’s the law! You can rant and call people names but if the law is the deciding factor in this appeal, the developer would lose. Of course, we know that the process is often tainted so we shall see.

  13. Screeds like this are self-defeating for someone who wants New Yorkers to be more accepting of development. A massive light-blocking project solely for the ultra-wealthy wins approval through a sketchy and flawed process, and still YIMBY has zero sympathy for critics and unloads pure venom on them. If the author can’t find any fault whatsoever here, he can’t be trusted to tell readers when a project really is problematic.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 28, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Reply

      There is a 1,550′ tower rising about ten blocks to the southwest… the entire vicinity is “tower in the park” style wasteland. There is nothing redeeming about the location as-is, in fact, razing all the commie-blocks where the NIMBYs live would be even better. What is problematic about improving Manhattan, especially when the new development is going to look fantastic?

  14. The posted picture of 200 Amsterdam is interesting. Hope the finished product is equal to its projected silhouette.

  15. I just came here to compliment you on your takedown of entitled NIMBYs who hate freedom, justice and the American way. Keep up the great work.

  16. I’ve enjoyed reading YIMBY for years and have even shared tips and photos with the author. But this post is an ad homein screed that i hope Nikolai regrets having written.

  17. Your reports have sounded like editorials in the past, as though just giving readers the facts isn’t enough for you, but this is not journalism. It’s a childish rant from someone who seems to have his ego invested in a personal power struggle. Who on earth do you think you are, and why is your publisher going along with you?

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Reply

      My ego is invested in ensuring new housing gets built in NYC, regardless of whether it is tall or small. It is telling that the comments attacking me are focusing on supposed “ad hominem” attacks against the NIMBYs when I have citations that clearly show the ethos behind Brewer’s “governance” is the $$$ donated by wealthy constituents, rather than what actually benefits ALL of her constituents.

  18. I think ALL New Yorkers will benefit from this new development in a time when demand highly exceeds the supply of residential real estate. Also, the design of 200 Amsterdam Ave. is really cool. UWS will look so much better with this new addition to the skyline.

  19. Richard Chused | March 28, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Reply

    Nikolai–As you know I have been a long time reader and sometime image contributor to this page as well as to the forum site. And I, like many other commenters on your 200 Amsterdam posting, agree that the article is unnecessarily harsh. You and others certainly are free to argue that 200 Amsterdam should be built. But others are free to disagree without being described with the use of strong and perhaps vituperative language. I, for one, find the arguments about the permit in this case very interesting. As a law school property teacher (and putting aside my feelings about the wisdom of allowing of this building to be completed) the contentions made against the building permit are interesting and deeply important for the future of land use law in New York City. They may end up being legally rejected, but they are not specious at all. And these are the sorts of issues that everyone–both developers and residents alike–need to have resolved. Neither side should have to fight at length over interpretations of rules that are vaguely drafted and subject to variable understandings. So rather than posting an article that pans the views of those you disagree with, why not provide a more nuanced view of the various land use issues on the table and then state your opinion. That would satisfy both me and much your readership much more than the article you did post.

    • Nikolai Fedak | March 28, 2018 at 6:53 pm | Reply

      Vituperative is a great word! I appreciate your feedback and perhaps a more comprehensive piece can be written in the near-future. 🙂

  20. The name YIMBY is an acronym created as opposition to NIMBY as I understand the terms and it’s intended purpose to counteract it’s ideological opponents. This article is simply a strong worded, accurate and articulate expression of that very opposition: in a word YIMBY.

    What I see here with the ‘outrage’ about this article is yet another example of “tyranny of the minority” – the majority of the readership of this bloc is surly anti-nimby. That being said; another acronym comes to mind WTF is so wrong abut the above article.

  21. I’m very interested to no if they don’t want this building build there what would they like to see in its place????

  22. Peter fitz Peter | March 29, 2018 at 7:44 am | Reply

    Build a mosque there that will keep ye crying yuppies happy

  23. When Lincoln Towers (and Lincoln Center, for that matter) were built many years ago, there was a hue-and-cry about building a development “for the rich” by those who lived in the decrepit tenements next to the railroad yard which were there before. But it was built anyway. The argument for it then was, it will improve the area and living conditions. Few, if any, remember that (or want to).
    Today, we have the same hue-and-cry from those surrounding the new 200 WEA development, thinking that that area is “their neighborhood” and no one should be allowed trespass into it.
    It doesn’t work that way, especially in NYC, as the old tenement occupants, long forgotten about, found out.
    Note to West Side residents: get over it.

  24. Mr. Fedak,

    I enjoy your writing and opinions. Do not be discouraged by the haters. Over the course of the last 400 years it has been the ‘greed of outside developers and the super-rich’ that has made the island what it is today.

  25. Great article. New residential development on the UWS (and throughout the city) is desperately needed.

  26. I love reading YIMBY and certainly don’t always agree on the “let them build it” philosophy, especially when NYC loses historic buildings, but this piece isn’t a news article. It is a deplorable angry rant. I find it disappointing and embarrassing that this is acceptable “journalism”, if one can even label it that.

  27. Good article – a little over the top but aren’t the NIMBY complainers doing the same?

    I live in the neighborhood and welcome the new addition.

  28. The problematic word is “context”., used to block anything get new. The context around 200 Amsterdam is the surpassingly ugly and out of date Lincoln Towers The proposed new building is distinguished architecture, so it is undoubtedly out of context.

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