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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

645 5th Avenue, application requesting a sixth modification to a previously approved authorization to allow the owner to upgrade the FAR-bonusing Covered Pedestrian Space on the ground floor

WHEREAS, Oxford Properties Group (Applicant) requests approval by the City Planning Commission of a modification of the authorization (CP-21940), approved in 1972 allowing for the modification of height and setback regulations for a development at 645 5th Avenue (Olympic Tower), which required in return a Covered Pedestrian Space (CPS) – a category of privately owned public space; and

WHEREAS, Olympic Tower is a 51-story mixed-use building on a block bounded by Madison Avenue, Fifth Avenue, East 51st Street, and East 52nd Street,  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; 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 Applicant took title to the covered pedestrian space as part of its acquisition of 645 Fifth Avenue in 2013 after Applicant’s predecessors in title were granted five modifications between 1987 and 2013; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant was not responsible for the prior five modifications and believes that the Application before the Board in 2018 will be the final modifications needed to recognize the maximum public benefit; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant plans to, among other changes,

WHEREAS, The Proposed Modifications:

  1. are a significant aesthetic and functional upgrade to the interior space and exterior detail of the current CPS,
  2. increase accessibility to the CPS with an ADA compliant lift,
  3. better realize the original intent of the FAR-bonus given to the property in exchange for the CPS by creating throughways parallel to Fifth Avenue to relieve pedestrian congestion on Fifth Avenue (pursuant to 1971 Special Fifth Avenue District),
  4. will increase the amount of public seating in the CPS by approximately 28 seats, and
  5. will require a short period of construction to minimize disruption to the public’s use of the CPS; and

WHEREAS, The Proposed Modifications to the CPS, which sits above the Onassis Cultural Center on the lower level, will increase the public’s access to the Center and contribute significant cultural resources to the public realm; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has advised CB5 that it has already begun work on elements of their plan for the modification of the CPS that are as-of-right, we continue to encourage all applicants, as a measure of good faith, to come to us with details of their entire project before they begin such work; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by Oxford Properties Group to modify the covered pedestrian space at their Olympic Tower property located at 645 Fifth Avenue.

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