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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Application # M 870431 (D) ZAM, 645 5th Avenue, Olympic Tower, application requesting 5th modification to a previously approved authorization (CP-21940) pursuant to former Section 87-101(d) of the Zoning Resolution for…

At the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of Community Board Five on Thursday, October 10, 2013, the Board passed the following resolution by a vote of 32 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, this Application requests approval by the City Planning Commission of a modification of the authorization (CP-21940) approved in 1972 for the modification of height and setback regulations for a development that provided a Covered Pedestrian Space – a category of privately owned public space; and

WHEREAS, Olympic Tower is a 51-story mixed-use building on a zoning lot of approximately 40,418 square feet with retail uses on the ground floor and 2nd Floor, offices on Floors 3 through 21, and residential use on Floors 22 through 51.  The building is on the block bounded by Madison, Fifth, E 51, and East 52nd Street; and 

WHEREAS, the retail uses front on Fifth Avenue and on East 51 Street, the residential entry is located on East 51 Street and the office lobby is accessed directly from the public space; and 

WHEREAS, the space is split between serving a circulation function and destination function – the Onassis Center; and

WHEREAS, the modifications proposed in this application will provide additional public seating in the CPS and are designed to improve the entry to the galleries of the Onassis Cultural Center in the cellar; and

WHEREAS, the applicant's goals for the renovation are as follows (taken directly from land use application)

1. Expand the public seating area and reduce or eliminate visual obstructions that currently segment the various activities that attract the public to the CPS;

2. Enlarge and increase the visual presence of the public coffee bar;

3. Redesign the waterfall to be more tranquil and less disruptive acoustically;

4. Reconfigure the entry sequence to the Onassis Cultural Center to be more harmonious with the primary circulation spine;

5. Provide visitors to the CPS with a visual connection to the gallery foyer of the Onassis Cultural Center and increase awareness of this cultural amenity;

6. Upgrade the museum display area at the first floor level;

7. Enlarge and enhance the exhibition galleries in the cellar and reconfigure the entry sequence to be more generous;

8. Improve accessibility to the basement galleries by upgrading the lower level elevator vestibule.

WHEREAS, as indicated on Drawing CPC-05, the number of seats (including the chairs and benches provided for the general public on both levels) increases from 106 seats to 128 seats, and an additional 70 seats are located in the cafe and espresso and service bars and as detailed on Drawing CPC-05, additional landscaping is provided both in fixed and in moveable planters.

WHEREAS, the exterior public signage at both the 51St and 52nd Street entrances will be supplemented to include an information plaque that conforms to the standards of public space signage requirements; and

WHEREAS, the attached drawings more clearly document the proposed improvements; and

WHEREAS, the Board commends the applicant for continuing to invest and improve this space; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the re-design of Olympic Tower Covered Pedestrian Space at 645 5th Avenue, bet. 51st and 52nd Streets.

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