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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

645 Fifth Avenue - ULURP #M870431CZAM, application by Olympic Tower Associates (Owner) by the City Planning Commission for a modification to a covered pedestrian space to allow for the installation of exhibition space in place of a newsstand

WHEREAS, Olympic Tower Associates is seeking a modification of the covered pedestrian space (CPS) on the ground floor of Olympic Tower, a mixed-use condominium building located at 645 Fifth Avenue between East 51st and East 52nd Streets, from the City Planning Commission (CPC); and

WHEREAS, In 1972 the CPC granted an authorization that permitted modifications of the height and setback regulations for 645 Fifth Avenue and in this authorization required a CPS, approving modification to the CPS in 1980, 1987, 2000 and 2003; and

WHEREAS, The CPS at 645 Fifth Avenue is an inviting public space that today includes a sky-lit waterfall, public seating, a café area, a retail shop featuring items of Hellenic origin or influence, and 19th century plaster casts of the Parthenon frieze sculptures, a space that has been well-maintained and has become a destination for both those interested in Hellenic culture and the general public; and

WHEREAS, The CPS included a 320 square foot area at the north end of the CPS to accommodate a newsstand but despite repeated attempts, low retail sales have meant no newsstand operator has been able to succeed with an operation in this location; and

WHEREAS, By permitting this modification the area now designated for a newsstand will be redesigned with improved lighting and be used  for displays of art and artifacts; and

WHEREAS, The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), a New York not-for-profit corporation wholly-owned by, and a subsidiary of, the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, is a tenant in Olympic Tower leasing space for both its offices and the "Onassis Cultural Center;" and

WHEREAS, The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation will install and operate the displays of art and artifacts, including the installation of permanent display cases on the eastern and/or southern walls, plus movable cases in the current newsstand area; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application of Olympic Tower Associates for a modification to the covered pedestrian space at 645 Fifth Avenue that would permit the elimination of a newsstand and instead allow for rotating art and artifact displays.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 34 in favor, 0 opposed, 2 abstentions.

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