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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

712 5th Avenue, request for a special permit modification to facilitate design changes to a publicly accessible atrium.

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, January 14, 2021, the following resolution passed with a vote of 39 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, 712 5th Avenue, known as the Coty Building (the “Building”) is a commercial building located in Midtown Manhattan between 55th and 56th Streets; and

WHEREAS, The Building is an individual landmark, formerly the home of Bendel Department Store, and flanked to the south by the original Rizzoli Bookstore (also an individual landmark); and

WHEREAS, The Building is known for its significant, original Lalique windows, made of frosted engraved glass with decorative motifs; and

WHEREAS, The buildings transferred their development rights through a special permit pursuant to Article 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution, that requested among other things that the atrium around the Lalique windows be permanently accessible for the public’s enjoyment; and

WHEREAS, A modern tower located midblock to the west of the Building, and connected to 716 Fifth Avenue was built using the excess development rights; and

WHEREAS, Since the approval of the site’s original special permit and restrictive declaration in 1986, four minor modifications have been approved related to the Fifth Avenue Atrium, upper floor uses, various storefront and retail matters, and public viewing of the historic Lalique windows; and

WHEREAS, The applicant seeks a fifth minor modification to the special permit and restrictive declaration to allow design changes to the publicly accessible atrium that will both improve visibility of the Lalique windows and facilitate the expansion of a neighboring retail tenant, Harry Winston; and

WHEREAS, Retail is facing an unprecedented crisis due to both long-term economic changes and the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these challenges are evident not only in the retail spaces of this Building and Fifth Avenue, but throughout Manhattan Community Board Five and New York City as a whole; and

WHEREAS, These proposed changes would allow Harry Winston to expand its flagship store to a building at 714 Fifth Avenue, anchoring the retail space on this stretch of Fifth Avenue, as well as honoring the history of this block as the home of notable retail spaces; and

WHEREAS, These proposed changes would also facilitate improved layouts for the remainder of the retail spaces, thereby improving their marketability as well; and

WHEREAS, These proposed changes would further harmonize the interior of the public atrium and improve public sightlines to the Lalique windows, a striking and central feature in the building’s exterior landmark status, through the removal of catwalks and other changes; and

WHEREAS, The Building is an exterior landmark and there would be no exterior modification to the building beyond the updated required “POPS” signage and non-visible lighting that has been approved by LPC staff and does not require a Certificate of Appropriateness, and the building is not an interior designated landmark; and

WHEREAS, These modifications would be consistent with the previous approvals for this building, the findings of the original special permit, and the building’s history and use; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that Community Board Five recommends approval of the request for a fifth minor modification to the special permit and restrictive declaration

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