A 30-story high-rise in Manhattan that is almost completed might have to cut off five of its top floors because of one elected official's complaint that developers have violated the city's zoning rules, reported The New York Times.
The high-rise, located on the Upper East Side, has seen fierce resistance from Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, who claims her neighborhood is being overwhelmed by glass towers.
The architect has denied violating zoning rules. But Brewer said the 467-foot-tall high-rise on Third Avenue near 63rd Street is 10,000 SqFt larger than what zoning permits allowed.
Brewer sent a letter last Friday to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Manhattan district attorney's office requesting for an investigation into how the high-rise was able to get larger than it should of have, citing a private planning consultant who she said uncovered the potential violation.
The high-rise exposed "egregious lapses" in the DOB's oversight of developments, Brewer said.
"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," Brewer wrote in her letter, referring to the DOB.
A DOB spokesperson said the agency was currently examining the zoning challenge over the building's size brought by Brewer.
"We scrutinize every new-building application for compliance with the city's zoning resolution," the spokesperson, Andrew Rudansky, said in a statement. "As part of this process, we're currently reviewing and giving careful attention to a community challenge regarding the project at 1059 Third Avenue."
The building's developer, Inverlad Development, said in a statement that the company would "respect the process and defer to the DOB as it reviews its approvals."
"We are confident that our team will address any outstanding concerns and meet all requirements to the department's satisfaction," the spokeswoman said.
Manuel Glas is the architect behind the high-rise, who signed the building and zoning permits, said the zoning was reviewed and approved four times by the DOB.
"I have been an architect for 45 years, have always adhered to a high ethical standard, and will, of course, cooperate with any review of my work on this project," Glas said in a statement.
If the DOB determines the high-rise did violate the zoning rules, the developer would have to draft redesign plans. This could involve the removal of five floors, which would bring the building's total square footage back to code.
Removing floors from the building would be a significant operation for the developer. The last time this happened in New York City was in 1991, when a developer on 96th Street, near Park Avenue, had to reduce a 31-story building to 19 stories.
George M. Janes & Associates reviewed both the zoning drawings and the construction plans for the projected and recognized several significant differences.
"This building is too big, and it was purposefully too big," Janes said in an interview. "I review things all the time and find mistakes, but nothing like this. This was purposeful deception."
Janes said the floor-area calculations on the zoning documents had wide discrepancies versus the measurements on the blueprints, in both the architect's drawings and zoning plans. This meant extra space was added for premium condos, without telling the DOB, would allow condos situated at the top part of the building to demand higher prices.