Where now pedestrians can look up to see a wide swath of blue sky above a synagogue at 200 Amsterdam Avenue and W. 69th Street, the soon-to-be tallest building on the Upper West Side is starting to take shape.
Announced last November, the 55-story residential tower was sold to SJP Properties last year for $275 million.
Marcia Espinoza, who has worked at the dry cleaners directly across the street for more than 16 years, will miss being able to see the sky from behind the register. “Everybody’s on the same page -- we don’t know much,” Espinoza said. “Construction is what moves New York … so if you want to complain about this building you might as well complain about every other building around the city.” As for the idea of an influx of customers once the tower is completed, Espinoza said, “We hope so!”
The first renderings of the building, which is as-of-right and will not require any public review or input for construction to begin, were released last week by New York YIMBY. Though there are several buildings within a 10-block radius that top 40 stories, the Upper West Side is typically a lower-scale neighborhood, especially north of W. 72nd Street. According to YIMBY, the San Remo building at W. 74th Street and Central Park West is currently the tallest on the Upper West Side proper, at 400 feet.
Manny Garcia, who has been a doorman at 2025 Broadway, also across the street from the new development, heard from residents in November that they were upset about the building, which for many of them will block out beautiful westward views. “Mostly the view, overcrowding of the neighborhood, parking, schools, stuff like that,” Garcia said, adding that he hasn’t heard much about it since last fall.
Carol Goldman, a resident of 2025 Broadway, doesn’t live in a unit that will face the new building, but she said she feels sorry for those who do. “I think that the density in this area is already too much, and it impacts transportation, lines in the supermarket, so I’m not in favor of these high-rise apartment buildings,” she said. Though some have argued that the area needs more housing and that its ideal transportation placement next to the 72nd Street 1/2/3 subway station will help absorb new residents, Goldman calls this “wishful thinking.”
In an editorial in The West Side Spirit last fall, City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who represents the city’s sixth district, described the west side as “beleaguered” by as-of-right” developments, and lamented the proliferation of luxury condos. In comments this week, Rosenthal said, “Nothing has changed. I’ve spoken with the developer and plan to meet with him in July, and he has committed to both presenting to the community his plans and working with the community through a construction task force.”
Jacob Aron, who is a member of the Lincoln Square Synagogue that sold 200 Amsterdam to SJP Properties and has lived in the area for five years, says he doesn’t mind the new tower “as long it’s glass.” Pointing to the remaining synagogue building adjacent to where the tower will go, he said, “These bricks are ugly.”
No completion date has yet been set for the new building, which is in the very beginning stages of development.