Upper West Side NIMBYs May Face Karmic Justice As Plans Reveal Two Skyscrapers at 125 West End Avenue

Rendering of 125 West End Avenue on the Upper West SideRendering of 125 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side. Rendering by Ars Longa

UPDATE: A source has informed YIMBY that the depicted design was created for the site’s previous owners by Ennead Architects, and is now out of date. The actual plans are unlikely to include a residential component.

After vainly attempting to stymy the rise of 200 Amsterdam Avenue through multiple frivolous lawsuits, the residents of the hulking and monolithically anti-urban Lincoln Towers may soon be reaping just karmic desserts, with an even taller neighbor now apparently in the works on their southern periphery. Preliminary renderings have been found for Taconic’s planned two-towered development at 125 West End Avenue, and if the first image of the project is any indicator, the larger of its two towers could steal 200 Amsterdam’s mantle as the tallest skyscraper on the Upper West Side.

The project originates in the sale of the ABC campus last year. Silverstein sold three components of the entire 1.7-million-square-foot ABC portfolio to Taconic Investments for approximately $220 million, as reported by the Commercial Observer. Those assets include 125 West End Avenue, which hosts an office building totaling almost 400,000 square feet, as well as 320 West 66th Street, which is occupied by an approximately 120,000-square-foot office and television studio combo. A vacant parcel dubbed “Lot 61” was also a part of the assemblage, as reported by CityRealty.

Combined, the air rights and existent structures total 619,012 square feet of development rights, which is very substantial for the neighborhood. In comparison 200 Amsterdam Avenue, which YIMBY was the first to reveal back in 2016, totals 400,000 square feet, and stands 668 feet to the top of its crown.

Details for the two towers of 125 West End Avenue are not yet available, but gauging the rendering, a pinnacle height of approximately 750 feet would not be an unreasonable estimate. While the plans are contextualized within a neighborhood entirely dominated by high-rise housing, that has not stopped the NIMBYs of the neighboring Lincoln Towers from launching lawsuit after lawsuit against 200 Amsterdam Avenue, to no benefit of their own, and to the detriment of the Department of Buildings processes citywide.

The renderings originate from Chinese visualization firm Ars Longa, whose website includes a number of other projects in New York City currently under construction. The design appears to be fairly conservative, with the program for both towers consisting of a massing of stacked and slightly offset boxes interspersed with cutouts.

While the design is hardly groundbreaking, it would still be far superior to the hostile Soviet architecture of Lincoln Towers, immediately to the north. A breakdown of usage has not been released, but it would appear that the plans indicate a majority of the development would be residential, with possible community and office elements included in the lower levels.

No completion date has been released for the site, and with demolition for the extant structures yet to begin, it would be safe to say these plans could still change significantly between today and whenever they are completed.

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17 Comments on "Upper West Side NIMBYs May Face Karmic Justice As Plans Reveal Two Skyscrapers at 125 West End Avenue"

  1. I believe that this rendering might be out of date – the surrounding image has to be from late 2016, early 2017 because 1 West End Avenue is nowhere near completion in that photo.

    Also, I live across the street from this site – While I would definitely be okay with seeing towers that large, I would hope there are at least some community concessions

  2. This is poor reporting at the least.
    1. Nobody in Lincoln Towers is going to care what happens on separate blocks south of it. Seriously, get a grip.
    2. The 200 Amsterdam site is currently under court order to reduce size by dismantling 20 floors, so your characterization of the lawsuits as “frivolous” is pretty frivolous.
    3. The community knew that 200 Amsterdam could go to 600 feet in 2006, so no, you weren’t “first.” Why they didn’t sue then, by the way, seems to be a pretty good defense for the developer not.
    4. The tallest building under development in the UWS is the Extel site on W. 66 (50 S 66?), not 200 Amsterdam (which, by the way, is a really ugly building).

    Finally, if NY YIMBY hasn’t noticed, we’re in a massive crash. That’s affecting everything and that has made anything planned before February 15 arguably obsolete and irrelevant.
    Are you going to cover this minor tidbit of news?

    • Sorry, item 3, I meant to say ‘why the community didn’t sue in 2006 seems to be a pretty good defense for the developer now,’ not ‘not.’

    • Yeah, this article is unnecessarily harsh, dwelling more on 200 Amsterdam, which still isn’t a done deal, than the actual story. While I think the ruling is fair, I agree that the building shouldn’t be torn down, and there should be alternate usage for the bottom floors

      And don’t be so quick to assume this is going through. If this really final, then you’ll be sure to see people mobilize to fight it, just like 200 Amsterdam. I know that a lot of people and Landmark West! have been keeping track of this site since July of 2018

    • No, we’re not in a “massive crash”. Haitus, yes. The current economic situation was caused by a worldwide health external (coronavirus), not economic internals (weakening economy). This is NOT like 2008 (or any other long economic downturn) in which the economy was weak, very sick, precipitated by the bank/mortgage fiascos. Our present economy was very strong, which was purposely crashed for health reasons. The dynamics of our strong economy should still be there once we can return to living and working. Realistically it won’t return overnight, but return it will.

    • 1. Everyone in Lincoln Towers cares about everything in Manhattan, let alone their neighborhood. Where does the head of GVSHP live? Lincoln Towers.

      2. It is not under court order, the order has been stayed, and the City has joined them in fighting it. The lawsuits ARE frivolous.

      3. We were the first to reveal the design. You misread what I wrote.

      4. I am aware of 50 West 66th Street as well. This could potentially be taller.

      And re: your last point, crashes happen, news is still written.

      • I love 200 Amsterdam…wish it were even taller, maybe another 20 floors in addition to what has been constructed.
        It is a GREAT METROPOLIS folks, would you rather live in Utica NY?

      • I lived in Lincoln Towers for 14 years. Residents care about what happens on their superblocks (200 Amsterdam is on one). Overwhelmingly they come and go via 66th st and then eastbound or 69 & 70th streets and east or north. They have no reason to walk south on West End in the direction of the project you are writing about and they won’t be affected by it. I was there in 2006 when the 200 site – on a Lincoln Towers block – was first sold to a developer and word was that the building could go to 600 feet. People cared. I was there when large buildings like 101 West End began to go up south of us on West End. People didn’t care.

        The court order has been stayed as a matter of law because and appeal by the City stays a court order. But it’s a court order, and a decision in favor of the plaintiffs, making your claim that the suit is “frivolous” absurd and, in a word, frivolous. (by the way, I think the court is wrong, but this is not a frivolous case, and there’s no need to SHOUT).

        And the crash isn’t “news?”

    • “The 200 Amsterdam site is currently under court order to reduce size by dismantling 20 floors”

      Zero chance of happening.

      • Agreed the 20 floors won’t come off; be but the fact that the court ruled for the plaintiffs makes the argument that the suit is “frivolous” absurd.

  3. Your description of Lincoln Towers is hilarious and accurate. The hypocrisy of well heeled New Yorkers is legion, and the Palm Beach, snow bunny set living in Lincoln Towers would be no exception. I knew professionally the author of the DOB memo at issue in the Amsterdam litigation, former Deputy Commissioner of the DOB Irving Minkin. Mr. Minkin’s work has been highly respected in the zoning field for about half a century, so the State Court was embarrassingly mistaken ruling against Mr. Minkin’s Technical Memorandum regarding zoning lot mergers. And the developer’s reliance upon that memorandum and the DOB’s consistent application of same for about 40 years (without any objection from the Department of City Planning, by the way), in order to assemble its development rights was as right as rain, and the building will rightly stand as approved and built. If Nimby types find activist Courts and Judges that will legislate from the bench against real estate development, as did the Court in the Amstersdam case, they will chill progress and mummify the town.

  4. Michael Florentino | April 16, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Reply

    Im working on the 200 Amsterdamn project
    nothing is changing, the time to stop thant job was in the planning stages

  5. Who knows – after this pandemic, Yimbys “may” face karmic justice: it remains to be seen how many oligarchs in the future will want to forego social distancing and squeeze into this island. Heck, it remains to be seen how many oligarchs are left. And isn’t it funny that almost all rich, privileged Manhattanites who could fled the city for their country homes rather than face coronavirus here?

    • Nikolai Fedak | April 16, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Reply

      Yes, because only oligarchs are moving to New York City.

      • Only oligarchs are likely to buy apartments in 200 Amsterdam or 125 West End Avenue. Those buildings are not going to price their wares for young people moving to NYC just after college.

        • Ridiculous. Oligarchs wouldn’t be caught dead buying anything outside of the toniest nabes and Amsterdam Ave is not it.

  6. So the logic is: Because Lincoln Towers is big and ugly, it’s fine to put more big and ugly buildings in the neighborhood?

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