50 West 66th Street Officially Tallest UWS Building

Becoming the tallest building on the UWS is not an easy feat, as 50 West 66th Street has proven. After a 6-year saga of permit struggles and local controversy, the building is preparing to open its doors to new residents.

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The luxury 70-story condominium now stands at a staggering 775 feet, overtaking 52-story 200 Amsterdam Avenue as the tallest tower in the neighborhood. The metal and glass geometric facade, designed by global architecture firm Snøhetta, is easy to spot among the UWS skyline.

In a May 15 press release, Extell Development announced that the building would begin welcoming residents at the end of the year, with more than 50% of available residences already sold.

“Notable residences sold include Residences 41E, 42E, and 47E, which are all a combination of two units,” the press release states. “These homes all include five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms that span nearly 7,000 square feet with two loggias and were asking between $42.75 million and $46.75 million.

In addition to sweeping views of Central Park and the Hudson River, the building offers “over 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities” including a bowling alley, a pickleball court, and a “skyline lounge & sunset bar.”

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Extell’s announcement marks the end of a legal back-and-forth in which the building has been embroiled since construction began in 2018. At its conception, the building was projected to stand at 775 feet with 127 condo apartments across 69 stories, intending to claim the moniker of ‘Tallest Building on the UWS.’ However, in January 2019, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) revoked the tower’s permit on the grounds that the intended height violated zoning laws. Extell was accused of including large spaces for mechanical equipment – mechanical voids – in the building design as a tactic to exploit zoning laws and boost building height, thus increasing market value for upper-floor apartments with desirable views.

The DOB limited construction to 25 stories, instead of the 775 feet (approx. 77 stories) originally planned. Extell appealed. In September 2019, they obtained permits to resume work on the condition that city inspectors would confirm the proper use of the mechanical equipment space. Still, their legal difficulties continued. Advocacy group The City Club of New York sued Extell and the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to block construction. Extell counter-sued The City Club, arguing that they’d agreed not to oppose the project.

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In January 2020, BSA reviewed the case and denied an appeal against Extell in a 2-2 tie vote, allowing them to continue construction. They were halted again in September 2020 when a city judge rescinded Extell’s permit, ruling against the developer and citing zoning law violations. Local advocacy group Landmark West continued to fight the developers, eventually appealing to the New York State Supreme Court, though the motion was denied in December 2021. In the most recent development to date, Landmark West lost an appeal in May 2022, allowing work to continue.

At the time, ILTUWS interviewed Sean Khorsandi, Executive Director of Landmark West, who urged local residents to continue taking an interest in UWS developments. “The Upper West Side is unique. We have a highly educated, engaged, and motivated group of neighbors,” Khorsandi said. “What the community can do right now, I think, is twofold. One is, you need to be able to look in your own neighborhood…the other thing [you] can do besides paying attention is to take action.”


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