Requests for reports from the Landmarks Preservation Commission pursuant to Sections 74-711 and 74-79 of the Zoning Resolution to facilitate Transfers of Development Rights to 53 West 53 Street from St. Thomas Church and the University Club ...
WHEREAS, The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission ("LPC") has been requested to provide a Report to the New York City Department of City Planning ("DCP") pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution to facilitate the transfer of approximately 275,000 square feet of floor area from 678 Fifth Avenue (St. Thomas Church) to a development site located at 53 West 53rd Street going through-block to West 54th Street; and
WHEREAS, LPC has been requested to provide a second report to DCP pursuant to Section 74-79 of the Zoning Resolution to facilitate the transfer of approximately 136,000 square feet of floor area from 1 West 54 Street (The University Club) to a development site located at 53 West 53rd Street going through-block to West 54th Street; and
WHEREAS, The receiving Development site, 53 West 53 Street, contains 210,238 square feet of available floor area, which will be supplemented by another 7,000 square feet of available floor area from the existing Museum of Modern Art ("MoMA") to be used for the Connector Building; and
WHEREAS, The grand total of 628,238 square feet for the proposed new Mid Block development would result in a 75 story 1,155 ft. high eccentric, asymmetrical tower according to designs prepared by the celebrated French architect, Jean Nouvel, for the Developer, Hines; and
WHEREAS, The proposed tower at 1,155 ft. would be higher than the Chrysler Building's 1,047 ft., and just under the height of the Bank of America's 1,200 ft. tower nearing completion, and the Empire State Building at 1,250 ft., ranking it as the third tallest building in New York City if it were built; and
WHEREAS, Unlike all the other buildings cited above and some other towers of comparable height (New York Times Building 1,046 ft., including a mast on top of the building proper; Citicorp. 915 ft. and Trump World Tower 861 ft.), the proposed building, to be known as Tower Verre, will not be either on a wide avenue or major, wide crosstown street and will not occupy a full avenue blockfront; and
WHEREAS, The Developer has not provided a written preservation plan and independent Shadow Studies, as requested by the Committee, which are imperative in order to assess if there is an adequate preservation plan in place and for LPC to Report whether
WHEREAS, Furthermore, with respect to the University Club transfer of air rights, Sect. 74-79 requires adherence to the regulations of Sect. 74-792 of the Zoning Resolution which states:
(e) "As a condition of permitting such transfers of development rights, the Commission shall make the following findings: (1) that the permitted transfer of floor area or variations in the front height or setback regulations will not unduly increase the bulk of any new development, density of population or intensity of use in any block to the detriment of the occupants of buildings on the block or nearby blocks and any disadvantages to the surrounding area caused by reduced access of light and air will be more than offset by the advantages of the Landmark's preservation to the local community and the City as a whole;
"The Commission (City Planning Commission) shall give due consideration to the relationship between the landmark building and any new building developed on the adjacent lot regarding materials, design, scale and location of bulk.
"The Commission may prescribe appropriate conditions and safeguards to minimize adverse effects on the character of the surrounding area"; and
WHEREAS, Not only the properties set forth in point 2) hereinabove may be adversely affected by the proposed new tower, but other low and mid-rise buildings, many of them historic but not Landmarked, will also be affected, and
WHEREAS, The Zoning Resolution contemplates that the private burden of ownership of a landmark property may be offset by the benefit of a sale of development rights, and the public burden of a new building of higher density is alleviated by the continued existence and maintenance of a landmark, and further that these benefits and burdens bear some reasonable relationship to each other; and
WHEREAS, Community Board Five values the University Club and St. Thomas Church, notes that both are currently in good condition and is pleased to see ongoing maintenance plans, however, the proposed development rights transfer is expected to total over 400,000 square feet and result in a building triple the size of one built without development rights, thereby creating a public burden that far exceeds any public benefits; and
WHEREAS, Any new construction of the magnitude proposed would constitute a major disruption in traffic flow, an impediment to emergency vehicles, cause noise, contribute to air pollution, create problems for removal of construction debris on narrow cross-town streets, preventing access to, and the quiet, safe enjoyment of, the Landmarked properties; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five urges the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to issue two Reports to the New York City Department of City Planning recommending DENIAL of BOTH:
The above resolution passed by a vote of 27 in favor; 1 opposed; 2 abstaining.