Landmark West’s battle against Upper West Side supertalls marches on. Its appeal made against 50 West 66th Street will be heard before an appellate court panel with the non-profit announcing the news in a December 14, 2021 email titled, “LW! is very APPEALing!” The electronic communication – accompanied by photos of a red onion and its many layers – advised that its appeal “was accepted for argument last Thursday.”
One aspect of Landmark West’s multifaceted mission is to protect the Upper West Side from “insensitive change and demolition.” That is where this appeal regarding Extell Development’s 39-story tower comes in. Soon after Extell shoveled away the first piece of dirt at 50 West 66th Street in July 2018, the well documented rollercoaster of on-again off-again construction began.
The city revoked Extell’s permit in January 2019, limiting the property to 25 stories instead of the proposed 775 feet (approximately 77 stories) due to violations of zoning laws. In December 2019, Extell filed a lawsuit alleging that non-profit City Club of New York was “secretively” pursuing legal action against the tower. The following month, Extell got the green light from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to continue work on what would be the Upper West Side’s tallest building.
In September 2020, Extell lost again when a city judge rescinded the developer’s permit. Landmark West filed suit in December 2020 to challenge the BSA’s decision, but a judge denied and dismissed the petition in May. The preservationist organization appealed to the Supreme Court of New York (the highest trial-level court for New York County) in August to renew its arguments. That motion was denied last month.
Landmark West fought on and filed an appeal with the State’s Appellate Division on December 6, 2021. As the aforementioned email announced, the appellate court will hear oral arguments though the exact date is unknown. Landmark West’s legal counsel requested 15 minutes for oral argument. This request – except in very limited circumstances – will always be scheduled, so it is not surprising that this case will follow suit.
For those curious as to the argument Landmark West intends to make, check out its brief here. One section in particular stands out. In describing its view of “Extell’s flawed methodology” of floor spacing for mechanical units, page 3 (or 8 of 57 in the PDF numbering) has a terrific analogy regarding the Russian tradition of serving red caviar or black caviar for the New Year.