Tag: Judge W. Franc Perry

The New York Wrecking Ball


A NYC judge has ordered that the top half of the nearly-completed 200 Amsterdam building be lopped off.

New York City’s dicey legal system has garnered some more unwelcome publicity lately. In January 2019, Judge W. Franc Perry held that the building permit issued for the construction of the high-rise on 200 Amsterdam Avenue had been issued illegally, even though the developer had complied with all the applicable rules that the City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) required for a permit. The shoe dropped when 13 months later he ordered the developer to lop off the top half of the 52-story building in order to bring it in compliance with the zoning code.

Just how did this sorry spectacle come to pass? As my NYU colleague Roderick Hills wrote in City Journal, the permit had been issued in 2017 pursuant to a 1978 guidance of the DOB, known as the Minkin Memo, which stated “a single zoning lot … may consist of one or more tax lots or parts of tax lots.” In ordinary English, this cryptic ruling was universally understood to allow a developer to assemble one buildable lot out of many separate tax lots, which developers had done successfully 28 times since 1978.