New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos
Community groups launch lawsuit to block in-progress Upper East Side tower

Community groups and elected officials representing the Upper East Side filed a lawsuit targeting DDG’s 32-story luxury condo tower rising at 180 E. 88th St. The suit against the developers and two city agencies contends that the project’s height and configuration were achieved by exploiting a quirk in the zoning code.

“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is a party to the suit, said in a statement released Friday.

DDG broke ground on the project in April 2015, but a year later ran into trouble after community groups complained about an unusual aspect of the site’s zoning: The developer had carved out a separate, 4-foot by 22-foot lot along East 88th Street that allowed it to alter the building to a more advantageous shape.

Photo: Courtesy 180 East 88th Street

Community groups and elected officials representing the Upper East Side filed a lawsuit targeting DDG’s 32-story luxury condo tower rising at 180 E. 88th St. The suit against the developers and two city agencies contends that the project’s height and configuration were achieved by exploiting a quirk in the zoning code.

“The loophole being abused here is just an example of what residents have endured from overdevelopment in our city,” City Councilman Ben Kallos, who is a party to the suit, said in a statement released Friday.

DDG broke ground on the project in April 2015, but a year later ran into trouble after community groups complained about an unusual aspect of the site’s zoning: The developer had carved out a separate, 4-foot by 22-foot lot along East 88th Street that allowed it to alter the building to a more advantageous shape.

The quirk drew the attention of the city’s Department of Buildings, which shut down construction. But months later, after DDG changed the configuration, the department reversed its decisionand determined that the building was up to code.

“[DOB] believes it has made the correct decision in the case and stands by it,” a spokeswoman said in response to a question about the lawsuit, which accuses the department and the Board of Standards and Appeals of improperly approving the building.

The lawsuit was filed in late January by Kallos, along with state Sen. Liz Krueger, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, and Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts. A judge declined a request to halt construction while the case moves forward, according to the developer, meaning the building will continue to rise toward its completion, expected early next year. The project is now at the 16th story.

“This architecturally distinctive project has received all required approvals from [DOB] and is in full compliance with the city’s zoning regulations,” a spokesman said. “The upcoming hearing will provide another opportunity to present information in support of the appropriateness of this design and the rigorousness of the city’s approval process.”

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