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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Application on behalf of Kato International LLC for Certification pursuant to ZR §§ 37-624 and 37-73 for a permit for an open air café in an urban open space at 5-19 East 48th Street/8-18 East 49th Street

WHEREAS, Tower 49 is a 44-story commercial building located on a through block lot between 48th and 49th Streets and Fifth and Madison Avenues; and

WHEREAS, In 1982 a building permit was issued on an as-of-right basis including bonus plazas and covered arcades facing both East 49th and East 48th Streets, increasing the allowable FAR from 12 to 13.  Upon discovery that neighboring buildings encroached on the plaza, a Special Permit was granted in 1984, reducing the size of the plaza and corresponding size of Tower 49 and requiring granite paving, lighting and creation of a pedestrian passageway through the building; and

WHEREAS, In 2004 the Applicant received a Chairperson's Certification to permit a café in the plaza fronting on East 48th Street for (a) 3 years if improvements were made that included installation of 30 public chairs and 6 tables, trash receptacles, additional lighting and signage and the removal of a structure encroaching on the arcade, or (b) 1 year if the improvements were not made; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant (1) installed the tables and chairs but did not make the other improvements, (2) opened a café which operated for the summer of 2004, (3) was forced to suspend operation of the café and work on the improvements during 2005-2006 due to major construction on Tower 49, (4) was granted permission by the City Planning Commission to complete the improvements and operate the café through February 2007, and (5) having completed the improvements, was issued a three year renewal of the certification, which expired April 2010; and

WHEREAS, Although this is an application for a new three year permit, the Applicant, restaurant operator and improvements are the same as in prior years, and the Applicant has agreed to upgrade the quality of the public seating and install a stainless steel strip embedded in the granite pavers to delineate the café area from the public plaza and to prevent "café creep;" and

WHEREAS, The plaza is well maintained and the café is a popular amenity, and the representative of the Applicant agreed to meet the Committee's concern over lack of public rest facilities by asking his client to instruct the café staff to permit users of the public seating to have access to the café's bathrooms and the client has agreed to study this possibility; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application on behalf of Kato International LLC for a Chairperson's Certificate pursuant to Sections 37-624 and 37-73 of the Zoning Resolution for a permit for an open air café at 5-19 East 48th Street/8-18 East 49th Street.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 35 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining; and 1 Present Not Entitled to Vote.



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