Committee for Environmentally Sound Development

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The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (CFESD)

CFESD has been advocating for environmentally sound development in New York City for nearly 30 years. It was founded and is run by Olive Freud.

For development to be environmentally sound it must comply with all applicable regulations, including those that relate to land use, open space, shadows, hazardous materials, transportation, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and public health. That means true compliance, not simply manipulating the rules.

CFESD advocates for quality of life and a human-scale city, with access for residents to sky, sunlight and parks and other open space.

In 2010, Lincoln Center razed its neighboring Damrosch Park, a New York City park, by destroying nearly all of the trees and removing the famous Dan Kiley gardens, in order for Fashion Week to take it over. Lincoln Center also closed the Park to the community for 10 months a year. CFESD forced Lincoln Center to restore and reopen the Park (link).

CFESD also forced the developers of what was known as the Trump Buildings on the Upper West Side to connect Riverside Drive to Riverside Boulevard, the road on which many of these buildings open. Had the connection not been made, all north-south traffic from West 59th to 72nd Street would have had to use West End Avenue, creating traffic havoc on WEA.

Now, CFESD is seeking to stop the construction of the 688-foot tall super-tower at 200 Amsterdam Avenue pictured above (link).  After it organized a well-attended Town Hall Meeting, CFESD retained George Janes, an urban planner, to challenge the Department of Buildings’ approval of the super-tower and obtained the support of our elected officials and community organizations to sign onto the Challenge (link). The DOB stopped all work at the site (this is quite a feat) but the Department of Buildings then approved the work without providing required disclosures or explaining its reasoning. CFESD then hired Frank Chaney of Rosenberg & Estis, who filed an appeal with NYC’s Board of Standards and Appeals. The appeal focuses on how the developer’s plan defies the norms of open space ratios, thus providing insufficient open space, and misuses tax lots, resulting in a final lot that the developer itself has described as “gerrymandered” (link).   The developer accumulated property surreptitiously, so that a 10,000 square feet zoning lot became a 110,000 square feet zoning lot, which then led to their claim to have the right to erect a building having over 350,000 square feet of floor space. The outrage doesn’t stop there. The height of this building, even with this zoning lot size, which we disagree with, should not be 668 feet. It is puffed up with floors that are 12, or even more, feet high, and over 51 stories. In this neighborhood ceilings are 8 and 10 feet high. The mechanics are on the roof, while in every other building in this neighborhood they are in the cellar. Since super storm Sandy, new buildings in low lying areas raised their mechanics, but at this elevated location we do not expect that kind of flooding. There is the further addition of amenities that don’t count against the allowable zoning floor area. “The sub-cellars will hold ‘virtual golf’ a yoga/stretching room, a gym, pool, sauna, heated lounge and salt room. The first and second floors will include stroller storage, conservatory, club room, social lounge, rehearsal room, dining, kid’s room and a ‘tween lounge.’” From YIMBY September 27, 2016

At its planned height of 668 feet, the building would be over twice the height of the tallest nearby buildings on Amsterdam and West End Avenues, and would be the tallest building north of 61st Street. It would loom over the PS 199 playground and school building, casting extensive new shadows.

Construction of the new building has started and we must STOP it.  There is no such thing as a “done deal.”

At some point, possibly in the very near future, it will be necessary for us to engage in litigation, probably to seek an injunction and certainly to bring, or to oppose a lawsuit that may be brought by the developer, to stop this monstrosity. We are planning our strategy with our attorneys and are seeking to build a war chest, as we will be up against a developer with very deep pockets. The litigation will be very expensive and we will need to act quickly. We need to add significant funds to our war chest NOW.

If you support our work, we hope that you will donate by clicking the “Donate” button or sending a check to CFESD at P.O. Box 20464, Columbus Circle Station, New York, N.Y. 10023.  Please mail donations of more than $100CFESD is a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent permitted by law.

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