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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 1:29 AM
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New York Skyscraper Must Remove Top 20 Floors, Judge Rules

New York Skyscraper Must Remove Top 20 Floors, Judge Rules


February 15th, 2020

By Stefanos Chen

Read More: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a9337241.html

Quote:
In an extraordinary ruling, a state supreme court judge has ordered the developers of a nearly completed 668-foot block of flats in New York to remove as many as 20 or more floors from the top of the building. The decision is a major victory for community groups who opposed the project on the grounds that the developers used a zoning loophole to create the tallest building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A lawyer representing the project said the developers would appeal the decision.

- In an extraordinary ruling, a state supreme court judge has ordered the developers of a nearly completed 668-foot block of flats in New York to remove as many as 20 or more floors from the top of the building. The decision is a major victory for community groups who opposed the project on the grounds that the developers used a zoning loophole to create the tallest building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A lawyer representing the project said the developers would appeal the decision. --- It is common for developers to purchase the unused development rights of adjacent buildings to add height and bulk to their project. But in this case opponents of the project argued that the developers, SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, created a “gerrymandered”, highly unusual 39-sided zoning lot to take advantage of the development rights from a number of tenuously connected lots.

- Without this technique, the tower might have been little more than 20 storeys tall, instead of the nearly finished 52-storey tower that now stands. The decision also sets an important precedent, said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Art Society of New York, one of the advocacy groups that brought the suit against the project. --- Scott Mollen, a lawyer with the firm Herrick Feinstein, which is representing the project, said the ruling contradicted earlier decisions from the Department of Buildings and the Board of Standards and Appeals that were based on a long-established zoning interpretation. SJP, one of the developers, said they would “appeal this decision vigorously”. --- What comes next is unclear. While further litigation would effectively postpone any disassembly of the tower, sales at the luxury block would also be held up.

.....



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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 1:59 AM
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By definition, using a loophole is always technically legal.

Normally, if a loophole gets identified, you introduce legislation to close it, and THEN no one will be able anymore to do what was doable using it... but you can't retroactively invalidate something that was legitimately done using the loophole back when the laws allowed it (even if it went against the "spirit", it complied with the "letter").

At first sight, the developers are on the right side of the law here.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 2:02 AM
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^There was a court order before construction was finished for them to stop, they ignored it.

They deserve this honestly, have fun with that appeal and those attorney fees.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 9:03 AM
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They definitely circumvented the law here. They used a pattern of purchasing land that circumvented how the zoning laws were designed. I think, ideally, you keep high rises out of the neighborhood until they are absolutely needed. Then, that is when you allow them into the neighborhood.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 12:42 PM
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Headline is misleading. Nothing will happen to this tower.

The legal ruling is bizarre and will be overturned, as the developer followed the city's longstanding interpretation of its own zoning. If, by some crazy reason, the appellate court upheld this odd decision, the developer would go to the Board of Standards and Appeals (the city agency that rules on noncompliance) and the city would approve its original plans. And NIMBYs can't sue the Board, or otherwise challenge Board decisions.

And, if by some even more bizarre reason, the city decided to reverse course, and admit it doesn't know its own zoning, it would be sued by every major NYC developer in the last 50 years, since all relied on the exact same guidance, and you would have to tear down half of Manhattan, on the taxpayer's dime. So nothing is happening.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
^There was a court order before construction was finished for them to stop, they ignored it.
This is obviously not true.

There were wealthy NIMBYs screaming that the tower should stop building, so their views should not be blocked, but there was never such a court order. No major developer would build, and no established contractor would work, in defiance of a court order.

And, again, nothing will happen. They'll be more litigation, and more screaming/crying from NIMBYs in adjacent towers using the same zoning "loophole" as this tower (which is not even a "loophole", it's established, normal zoning practice; the NIMBYs are claiming it's a "loophole" because they found some document from the 1960's where a city bureaucrat called it a "loophole"). And the tower, which is already essentially finished and mostly sold out, will be occupied.
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 9:11 PM
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 9:29 PM
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This is going to go on for a while. I'd imagine once the residents move in, its going to complicate things a lot.

I don't think anything will happen. Tower is almost finished on a side note. Let's get these residents in, and add another crutch to the asinine NIMBYs ridiculous plans.
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Old Posted Feb 16, 2020, 11:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lio45 View Post
By definition, using a loophole is always technically legal.

Normally, if a loophole gets identified, you introduce legislation to close it, and THEN no one will be able anymore to do what was doable using it... but you can't retroactively invalidate something that was legitimately done using the loophole back when the laws allowed it (even if it went against the "spirit", it complied with the "letter").

At first sight, the developers are on the right side of the law here.
THIS.

When you work for developers, you end up digging for every square foot of floor area, utilizing any precedents, loopholes, obscure provisions, etc that you can. And it's all entirely legal because those are the rules at the time of application.

If the developers were granted legal permitted right to build by the City, built the plans to those approved drawings, what anyone else says doesn't mean dick. I bolded that because if there are any changes, it opens up things to interpretation.

None of that of course will not stop wealthy people with too much money and too much time keeping it in court forever.

I don't see these floors ever coming off.

I would be curious if the lawsuit (or injunction or whatever) could hold up final occupancy of the tower?

That in and of itself would be create a total cluster even beyond this lawsuit.
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Old Posted Feb 17, 2020, 7:42 PM
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Exactly.

Seems crystal clear to me that "hey! you used a zoning loophole! you shouldn't have been able to do what you just did!" is an admission that what was just done complies with zoning laws.

The correct thing to do for these NIMBYs is to petition the City to close that loophole because if the loophole stays open "then it leaves the UWS exposed to becoming a pin cushion of towers just like this one and we don't want that!" which at least is a valid position, even if we may disagree with them.

(To the guy above who says he's only okay with high rises "when needed", this is f'n Manhattan, if there's one spot in the entire country where high rises are to be expected, it's there.)
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Old Posted Feb 17, 2020, 8:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lio45 View Post
(To the guy above who says he's only okay with high rises "when needed", this is f'n Manhattan, if there's one spot in the entire country where high rises are to be expected, it's there.)
Well, I looked on google maps and this is a location away from Midtown’s set of high rises and this is a building that would stand out. I’m thinking we should listen to the will of the people who live there. It was put in the urban plan for a reason. My reasoning is, that we fill up midtown first and begin building taller high rises in the upper west side when we are at the point of no room for buildings of such height in midtown. Then, that is the point where you change the urban plan.
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Old Posted Feb 17, 2020, 11:04 PM
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I remember reading a case study from the 1990's in College where this happened to a building on Park Ave?

Any New Yorkers remember this?
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double L View Post
Well, I looked on google maps and this is a location away from Midtown’s set of high rises and this is a building that would stand out. I’m thinking we should listen to the will of the people who live there. It was put in the urban plan for a reason. My reasoning is, that we fill up midtown first and begin building taller high rises in the upper west side when we are at the point of no room for buildings of such height in midtown. Then, that is the point where you change the urban plan.
If the 'will of the people' had their way, Manhattan would consist of nothing beyond 10-12 stories. Plus, there are already fairly tall buildings in this neighborhood. That ship has sailed.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lio45 View Post
this is f'n Manhattan, if there's one spot in the entire country where high rises are to be expected, it's there.)
I don't know about that but what I do know is that in San Francisco many have tried to sue over loss of their views and the courts have repeatedly decided that there is, in CA anyway, no legal right or equity in a view (in spite of the fact that real estate routinely changes hands for hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of dollars more because it has a spectacular view.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
there are already fairly tall buildings in this neighborhood. That ship has sailed.
The article does say it's the tallest on the Upper West Side as if that mattered.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
If the 'will of the people' had their way, Manhattan would consist of nothing beyond 10-12 stories. Plus, there are already fairly tall buildings in this neighborhood. That ship has sailed.
Well, Washington DC was built that way. I think someday, the upper west side will have as many high rises as midtown but the way to do that is change the urban plan first and wait until high rises are absolutely needed. Maybe that is today but if that is today, you should be able to convince them to change the urban plan.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 1:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obadno View Post
I remember reading a case study from the 1990's in College where this happened to a building on Park Ave?

Any New Yorkers remember this?
Yes, there was a project that was forced to remove 12 floors, but it has nothing to do with this case.

In the case from 30 years ago, the developer submitted falsified docs to the city, so essentially cheated. In this case, the developer has done exactly what is allowed per the city. Essentially this case puts the city on trial, not the developer, but it won't work, because the city is the final arbiter.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 1:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double L View Post
Well, I looked on google maps and this is a location away from Midtown’s set of high rises and this is a building that would stand out. I’m thinking we should listen to the will of the people who live there.
You think that laws should be based on a survey of what neighbors think? So if a plurality of my neighbors thinks slavery is cool, it should be legal?

Also, why would you think that neighbors would support this crazy lawsuit? It threatens their own buildings, which were built under the same rules.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 1:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double L View Post
Well, Washington DC was built that way. I think someday, the upper west side will have as many high rises as midtown but the way to do that is change the urban plan first and wait until high rises are absolutely needed. Maybe that is today but if that is today, you should be able to convince them to change the urban plan.
And I think the majority of people would say DC isn't better for it.
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Old Posted Feb 18, 2020, 1:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double L View Post
Well, Washington DC was built that way. I think someday, the upper west side will have as many high rises as midtown but the way to do that is change the urban plan first and wait until high rises are absolutely needed. Maybe that is today but if that is today, you should be able to convince them to change the urban plan.
The urban plan already has a lot (30-40 story) buildings. Many have of them have been there decades...again, that ship has sailed. If you stand in the middle of Lincoln Center plaza, the city scape is dotted with nearby highrises. We aren't talking about DC or the 7th arrondissement in Paris.
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