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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

14-20 West 40th Street, request for modifications to height and setback, split lot provisions, pedestrian circulation space, and street wall continuity requirements for the development of a new 32-story hotel and residential building

WHEREAS, In March 2008 a Special Permit was granted by the City Planning Commission to facilitate the construction of a 357-foot high, 32-story, approximately 186,940 square foot building on property located at 14-20 West 40th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, allowing modifications to height and setback, split lot provisions, pedestrian circulation space, and street wall continuity requirements to facilitate the development of a new mixed hotel and residential building; and

WHEREAS, These waivers were granted to facilitate a building constructed to the street line like the landmarked Knox Hat Building and American Radiator Building, both also on West 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, near the proposed building, and in a manner consistent with a block that is characterized by towers; and

WHEREAS, In a separate action, the property received the transfer of approximately 17,000 square feet of development rights from the Knox Hat Building in exchange for preservation of that building and which the applicant has stated has been restored and an approved maintenance plan is in place; and

WHEREAS, The current applicant, HFZ West 40th LLC, obtained title to the project site in a foreclosure arrangement in June 2010 and now wishes to commence development of the project with the intention to proceed with the Landmarks Preservation Commission-approved building design and to construct a mixed-use hotel and residential building, although specific determination has not yet been made as to the percentage of hotel and residential use, nor has a hotel operator yet been chosen; and

WHEREAS, Although the Special Permit will not expire until April 2012, the applicant is seeking early renewal to assemble a development team, obtain construction financing, and finalize other plans that need the assurance that a renewed Special Permit will provide; and

WHEREAS, The renewal of a Special Permit is based upon confirmation that the facts upon which it was granted have not substantially changed and in the case of this application, neighborhood changes that have occurred since the 2008 grant are the completion of the Bank of America tower and the re-cladding of the Met Life building, both located at 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, neither of which affect the project site or block; and

WHEREAS, The building will be built at 358 feet flush with the street wall, rather than 395 feet permitted with a setback, and will continue the saw tooth pattern of the existing buildings on the street; and

WHEREAS, When Community Board Five approved the original Special Permit in 2008 with a vote of 28 in favor, 2 opposed and 2 abstentions, the Board urged that the new building be constructed to LEED standards with a minimum of silver, expressed concern about the impact any new residential and hotel development would have on the area's infrastructure, including public schools and transportation, and asked that steps be taken to mitigate the impacts from construction in this dense and high traffic area adjacent to Bryant Park, and the Board continues to have these requests and concerns; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has indicated the likelihood of LEED Silver construction; that while plans are still not finalized, it is expected that any residential portion of the building will have large apartment units; that while not required, a loading dock will be included with its entrance on West 39th Street; and while original plans included a 30-space parking garage it is not known if a garage will be included in the new plans for the building; however, Community Board Five requests the developer consider including a 30-space parking garage in the building; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board 5 recommends approval of the application of C080042ZSM for the renewal of a Special Permit pursuant to Section 11-43 for the purpose of constructing a new building on the zoning lot located at 14-20 West 40th Street.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 32 in favor, 5 opposed, 2 abstaining.

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