Third Ave tower too tall, BP says


A rendering showing two residential towers currently under development between East 62nd and East 63rd Streets on the Upper East Side. 1059 Third Ave. (left) and 249 East 62nd St. (right) are both projects of Orland-based Real Estate Inverlad Development. Image: George M. Janes and Associates
One block, one developer, two controversial towers
By Michael Garofalo

A few hundred feet west of 249 East 62nd Street — the so-called “condo on stilts” that in recent months has captured the attention of Upper East Side zoning reform advocates for the 150-foot-tall mechanical void in its middle section — a second tower being built on the same block by the same developer has come under scrutiny for questionable zoning practices of its own.

The 30-story condominium building nearing completion at 1059 Third Avenue is significantly larger than should be allowed under the city’s zoning resolution, according to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and a local land use group that examined the project’s building plans.

The Department of Buildings, Brewer alleges, approved plans for the project with severely miscalculated floor area tallies that produced a building nearly 10,000 square feet larger than should have been permitted — the equivalent of roughly five stories of extra space, worth about $36 million.

As reported by the New York Times, Brewer requested in a May 31 letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio that the DOB open an internal investigation to determine how the agency approved the plans.

The “egregious lapses” in the floor area calculations, Brewer wrote, “seem deliberate.”

“The care with which these miscalculations occur — and the fact that they only accrue to the benefit of the developer — suggests this was not an accident,” Brewer’s letter reads.

George M. Janes, a planning consultant who prepared the pending zoning challenge filed against the project by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, concurred with Brewer’s conclusion.

“In past reviews, I have identified dozens of errors in DOB approved drawings, but such errors could plausibly be attributed to applicant negligence, ignorance, carelessness, or the result of a complex process,” Janes wrote in the challenge. “Their size, pattern and pervasiveness suggest that these errors are likely in a different category.”

Real Estate Inverlad Development, the Florida-based company behind the project, could be forced to lop several stories off the top of the building if Brewer gets her way. “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.

Brewer also referred the case to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the state Office of the Professions “for consideration of criminal charges and license suspension of the architect involved.”

A partial stop work order has been in place at 1059 Third Avenue since January, when debris fell from the construction site and caused significant damage to the roof of a neighboring six-story building.