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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

N 830490 (A) ZSM application by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (“Applicant”) requesting a modification to a special permit to renovate the covered pedestrian space located on the concourse and ground levels at 575 Fifth Avenue.

WHEREAS, This application came before the Land Use and Zoning Committee because the proposed modification would significantly alter covered pedestrian space (CPS) created by the developer in exchange for bonus density; and

WHEREAS, The building’s CPS is currently configured as a public entrance on Fifth Avenue, a public walkway at ground level around a central three story retail atrium, a concourse level seating area, and an arcade with a public entrance on 47th Street; and

WHEREAS, The application states that the current arrangement of the CPS results in widespread neglect by the public due to the following design flaws:

WHEREAS, The configuration of the CPS is proposed to be altered by eliminating the Fifth Avenue entrance and replacing it with retail, in conformance with the current guidelines, eliminating the concourse level and below grade atrium, installing seating, lighting and planters, constructing a glass wall that will separate the escalators and office entrance from the CPS, and

WHEREAS, The CPS in the proposed renovation would be more visible, accessible, alluring and therefore more widely used by the public because of the following changes:

WHEREAS, The existing CPS is about 3, 340 square feet, and the proposed CPS will be about 3,612 square feet, which square footage results in essentially the same bonusable area as the original; and

WHEREAS, The space occupied by the planned food and beverage café will not come out of the CPS total; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has been responsive to the Department of City Planning’s concern for the quality of public space:  the current design was redone to reflect City Planning’s aversion to the East 47th Street arcade; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has said they will reappear before the Land Use and Zoning Committee should their plans change before approval by the Commission; and

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the requested modification to the bonused public space at 575 Fifth Avenue.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 34 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention.   

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