Contact Us

NYC Closes Loophole That Allowed Developers To Build Supertalls On Cobbled-Together Partial Lots

A rendering of 200 Amsterdam Ave.

The New York City government will no longer allow a zoning lot to consist of partial tax lots, effectively closing off a loophole that has been used by developers to build far higher than the approved zoning in certain neighborhoods.

The DOB released a bulletin concerning the issue on Monday, The Real Deal reports, and declared the ruling effective immediately, but not retroactively.

Last month, a judge ruled that SJP Properties and Mitsui Fudosan America, the developers behind the 200 Amsterdam Ave. condominium project on the Upper West Side, should have their permit to build revoked.

The building had already topped out at 668 feet tall, achieving that height by pulling together multiple lots and getting the green light to build by the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 2018.

Lawyers for the developers have argued the judge’s decision to pull the permit is contrary to a decades-old Department of Buildings policy. The city has filed to appeal the decision, and work has reportedly continued at the building. But under at least one interpretation of the law, the developers could have to deconstruct as many as 20 stories of the building if the city's appeal is not successful.

“The developers of 200 Amsterdam took advantage of a decades-old zoning interpretation to create a gerrymandered 39-sided zoning lot in order to construct a luxury building that is one of the tallest on the Upper West Side,” Jane Meyer, the deputy press secretary at the mayor’s office, told TRD in an email. “We are closing this loophole so that developers will no longer be able to cobble together partial tax lots for new buildings.”

Herrick, Feinstein LLP partner Scott Mollen told Bisnow last month that at least 20 buildings, maybe more, have used a similar interpretation of the law that SJP and Mitsui Fudosan did at 200 Amsterdam. While several community groups and politicians praised the judge's decision to revoke the permit, multiple real estate players said it sets a “dangerous” precedent and is more evidence of anti-development sentiment that is permeating the city.

A spokesperson for 200 Amsterdam said the developers applaud the city’s decision to appeal the ruling.

“Zoning regulations should be interpreted and enforced lawfully and transparently through the proper administrative and legislative process — without that, New York City’s economic growth will suffer at a time when the City is already facing a critical housing shortage,” the developers said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously appeal this ruling in partnership with the City and are confident that the facts and justice will prevail."