40-story Park Ave South residential building approved

Building, designed by Christian de Portzamparc, will include a redesigned subway entry. 400 Park Avenue South, LLC sought a special permit and text amendment to develop a 475-foot, 40-story residential building on the southwest corner of East 28th Street and Park Avenue South. The 417,544 sq.ft. building will have street-level retail space, and include the relocation and redesign of the 28th Street Lexington Avenue subway entrance.

The 19,279 sq.ft. L-shaped site is currently occupied by an at-grade public parking lot and an eightstory office building, which will be demolished.

Designed by French architect Christian de Portzamparc, the proposed new building will, at the base along Park Avenue and 28th Street, seem to break up and rise into four separate building structures; two relating orthogonally at right angles to the street and each other, and the other two rising at irregular, oblique, angles into a multi-faceted building edge. The final distinctive feature is the new subway entrance at East 28th Street, which is designed to allow natural light to penetrate into the subway platform. To permit its varied facade, the development necessitated a special permit and a text amendment from the Planning Commission to modify height and setback regulations, the distance between buildings, windows, lot lines, and court regulations. A zoning map amendment, altering the C5-2 and the C6-4A Districts to a C5-3, was also required to allow for an increase in permitted floor area from a maximum of 302,813 sq.ft. to 523,574 sq.ft.

The proposed text amendment will impact large lots with a floor area ratio of 15 in three other areas of the City: a four-block area bounded by Madison, Park Avenue South, East 23rd Street and East 27th Street; Park Avenue from East 32nd Street to the mid-block of East 34th and East 35th; and a threeblock area in the Court Square Subdistrict of Long Island City, Queens.

At the October 20, 2004 public hearing, Portzamparc, who also designed the iconic Louis Vuitton headquarters on West 57th Street, testified that the building’s oblique and orthogonal planes, designed to imitate the structure of crystal, related to other buildings along the street and drew the eye vertically to the angled top, which complemented the neighboring skyscrapers. Council Member Margarita Lopez spoke enthusiastically in support of the project design and of her fondness for the redesigned subway entrance.

The Commission unanimously approved the project on November 17, 2004, finding that the height and setback modifications improved the distribution of the floor area permitted on the site, and noting that a building of the same size built with no code exceptions would be almost 200 feet taller. Further, the size of the residential building, allowed by the map change, was appropriate because the site was well-served by transit.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on August 9, 2004. Community Board 5 voted unanimously to approve on September 9, 2004, and Borough President C. Virginia Fields approved on September 27, 2004.

CPC: 400 Park Avenue South (C 040495 ZSM – special permit for height, court, yard and setback); (C 040496 ZMM – map amendment); (N 040497 ZRY – text amendment) (November 17, 2004) (Jay Segal, Esq, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, for 400 Park Avenue South, LLC; Christian de Portzamparc, Gary Handel + Associates). CITYADMIN

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