To actually remove floors or space from a newly-constructed building because of a violation of zoning rules is quite rare as it is drastic. And it is a situation that a nearly-completed Upper East Side condo tower could be facing.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has alleged that a 467-foot-tall building at 1059 Third Avenue, designed by Manuel Glas, is much larger and taller by at least five floors than the zoning codes would permit, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Brewer, who said that the Department of Buildings (DOB) should have not approved 10,000 square feet for the building, recently submitted a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Manhattan's District Attorney's office asking them to investigate the matter.
A similar claim was made by a non-profit organization called Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, which previously filed a zoning challenge to the Buildings Department regarding the tower. In a summary of findings, the group said:
1. “The building is too large for its district” (referring to the 10,000 square feet of zoning floor area).
2. “The interior portion of the lot requires a new yard.”
3. “The proposed tower coverage is calculated incorrectly.”
4. “There are substantial errors and inconsistent information found throughout the DOB approved plans.”
In her letter, Brewer wrote: “If the results of the investigation conclude that the floor area now constructed was in fact fraudulent, DOB must order an equivalent amount of footage be removed from the building,”
Responding to Brewer's allegation, a Buildings Department spokesman told the Times that the department was going over the zoning challenge from the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts.
Real Estate Inverlad Development, the developer behind the project, said in a statement: “We are confident that our team will address any outstanding concerns and meet all requirements to the department’s satisfaction.” Glas, the tower's architect, said the building followed zoning rules and earned Buildings Department approval.
As reported by the Times, the last time a developer had to remove floors from a too-tall building that violated zoning rules was in 1991 The developer in that case, which involved an Upper East Side apartment that was built five years earlier, agreed in a settlement to shave off the top 12 floors.
David Chiu is an associate editor at The Cooperator.