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175 Park Avenue (aka Project Commodore): Parts 1 & 2

175 Park Avenue (aka Project Commodore):

Part 1: Defining a Harmonious Relationship as it relates to Grand Central Terminal;

Part 2: A Certificate of Appropriateness for Alterations to the Interior Landmark:      


At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, February 11, 2021, the following resolution passed with a vote of 44 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, 175 Park Avenue (the “Applicant”) is located on the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 42nd Street bound by the Park Avenue viaduct to the west, and was originally built as The Hotel Commodore in 1919 as part of the larger Terminal City development adjacent to Grand Central Terminal; and

WHEREAS, 175 Park Avenue, which was operated as the Grand Hyatt Hotel from 1980 to 2020, will be demolished to make way for a 1600-foot tall mixed-use building comprised of hotel, office space, and retail, as well as public plazas and with improvements to mass transit infrastructure at and below street level; and Part 1: Creating A Harmonious Relationship WHEREAS, The Applicant is seeking a series of  special permits and certifications to develop a 2.9 million sq/ft tower and as part of the permitting process (art 81-642 ZR), is required to demonstrate a harmonious relationship between the new development and Grand Central Terminal, (the landmark from which it is obtaining air rights), by way of massing, scale, material use, and complimentary nature toward the Landmark; and 

WHEREAS, The Applicant proposes to build a 1,600’ tall tower that tapers at the base with an elevated public plaza connecting to the Park Avenue viaduct, the proposed design extends the height and material of the Landmark’s plinth into the new development along 42nd Street, opening at the center of the proposed development’s façade where there are planned diagonal public stairways on either side of the main building entrance that extend upward to public plazas; and 

WHEREAS, The proposed façade of the main tower is made up of vertical structural support columns woven together and connecting to various main support points below-grade, with negative areas between the columns fully enclosed by glass and cables at the lower levels for maximum light and views penetration into the lobby and the vertical columns extend upward with several set-backs and tie together at an intricately designed crown; and

WHEREAS, The retail façade as well as the lower core of the building behind the glass and support columns will be clad in limestone, similar to the Indiana Limestone currently found on Grand Central Terminal; and 

WHEREAS, The proposed design of the tapered base is intended to structurally support the tower while adding to increased exposure of the east façade of Grand Central Terminal and this will create public outdoor spaces around the tower on all sides which connect to street level and to the Park Avenue viaduct; and 

WHEREAS, Although the tapered base allows for greater exposure and public viewing of Grand Central Terminal there are too many features of the tower proposal that detract from the Landmark, including exterior stairways at the main entrance of the proposed tower that not only disrupt the street-wall of a main thoroughfare with a very large opening, but also draw the eye away from Landmark; and

WHEREAS, The glass-clad quadruple height lobby destroys the grade-level symmetry of the building and the streetscape by introducing a large off-center escalator that, although interior, is very visible and gives the proposed building a suburban feel that conflicts with the elegant Beaux-Arts Terminal; and  

WHEREAS, Other detractions include an anticipated ‘glowing lantern’ effect of the lower floor’s glass atrium lighting up and out-shining Grand Central Terminal, and also abundant exterior lighting on the proposed public plaza and stairways; and 

WHEREAS, The non-contextual use of futuristic metal columns and glass for the tower design is overpowering, with any proposed incorporation of limestone either at minimal usage on the exterior portions or hidden within the glass atrium of the proposed development’s lobby; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board 5 recommends denial of a LPC Report stating a harmonious relationship between the proposed building and the Grand Central Terminal. Part 2: Certificate of Appropriateness for Grand Central Terminal improvements WHEREAS, The Applicant proposes several changes both within the Interior Landmark area of the 42nd Street Passage and to a portion of the Park Avenue viaduct level of Grand Central Terminal that will adjoin to the public plazas of the proposed development at 175 Park Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant proposes paving a small portion of the southeastern Park Avenue viaduct level in order to create a more cohesive nature with the proposed paving materials of the public plaza of 175 Park Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant also proposes changes to the 42nd Street Passage which include removal of two storefronts to allow for improved pedestrian flow both in and out of Vanderbilt Hall and in and out of the ramp to the Lower Concourse to a proposed secondary passageway to run parallel to the existing 42nd Street Passage that will be constructed within the proposed development’s envelope; and

WHEREAS, Proposed changes also include the removal of an MTA elevator that occupies one of the original entry bays at the 42nd Street entrance to the passageway and restoring it to match the other two adjacent bays in color, material, and function; and 

WHEREAS, Any new storefront details, and installed floor surfaces and wall surfaces will be consistent with existing surface areas of the Interior Landmark area; and 

WHEREAS, The proposed changes to the 42nd Street Passage will not only improve pedestrian flow in and out of Grand Central Terminal, but they will maintain original materials wherever possible, and extend similar materials where changes are required, thus preserving the integrity and original intent of the Landmark; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval for a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed changes to the small portion of the Park Avenue viaduct as well as alterations and improvements to the 42nd Street Passage of Grand Central Terminal.

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