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NEW YORK CITY-Only days before a scheduled court hearing on the matter, the Department of Buildings has issued a revocation order for the permits for 808 Columbus Ave., part of the massive “Columbus Village” development on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The action by DOB could halt construction of the development, which is considered the most extensive in any residential neighborhood in Manhattan, located between 99th and 100th streets here.

The action comes three weeks after a neighborhood resident filed a lawsuit against DOB and the developers, claiming “numerous zoning violations” and demanding an environmental review of the project. The lawsuit came months after the DOB failed to respond to an appeal letter by Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer, requesting that the agency issue a final determination on the legality of the project.

The complaint, styled Bunten v. DOB et al, requests that the Court compel the DOB to perform its administrative duty to enforce New York City zoning provisions, so that the citizens of the community can participate in a public review process to protect the character of their community and their environmental rights. The suit asks for an injunction to stop construction, pending review of the zoning violations and all environmental issues.

Hugh Finnegan, an attorney with law firm Sullivan & Worcester LLP, who is not involved in this particular lawsuit, tells GlobeSt.com that he thinks there will be many lawsuits brought against the DOB in the near future. “The crane accident, the Deutsche Bank building issues, the high number of construction site accidents and fatalities, among other things, are ammunition for these cases,” he explains. “The DOB has been very busy trying to keep up with all of the construction and renovation projects. Now they will be very busy defending themselves.”

A DOB spokesperson tells GlobeSt.com that they are not releasing an official statement at this point; however buildings officials tell GlobeSt.com that “the Buildings Department has put the developer on notice that the permit may be revoked if specific zoning issues related to curb cuts and parking spaces are not addressed within 10 business days. At this time the permits are active and the developer has the opportunity to address these zoning issues within the 10-day time frame. If the developer does not do so, then the Buildings Department will revoke the permit.”

Jack Lester, the plaintiff’s attorney, says that “it was clearly the community’s lawsuit that compelled the DOB to finally act after months of delay. If Justice Tingling had not ordered a hearing, the community would still be waiting for the DOB to act, while the developers continued construction.”

The proposed “Columbus Village” plans for over 320,000 sf of retail space, an underground parking garage and five residential towers. The central spine of the project along Columbus Avenue would create the longest pair of unbroken street walls along any avenue in Manhattan, bisecting a large-scale planned community known since 1959 as Park West Village, which consists of four condominium buildings between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West, and three rental structures west of Columbus Avenue. Thousands of residents, a public school, a health clinic and numerous businesses are within one block of the construction sites, according to a prepared statement.

Last July, a retaining wall collapse on the site caused a multi-day evacuation of an adjacent building. “The retaining wall collapse last summer was just one result of the DOB’s long neglect of its obligations,” Lester says. “The community has been waiting three years for this round-one victory in a long and anticipated 15-round fight.”

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