Council OKs air rights transfer from Seagram Building

Lord Norman Foster design approved. On August 14, 2008, the City Council approved the special permit and zoning text amendment proposed by Aby Rosen, developer of a 63-story hotel and residential building at 610 Lexington Avenue, adjacent to the Seagram Building. The special permit grants a transfer of development rights from the landmarked Seagram Building, and the text amendment allows, in part, height and setback modifications by way of special permit and an accessory off-street loading berth waiver on streets with curb cut restrictions. 5 CityLand 105 (Aug. 15, 2008).

Speaking on behalf of the applicant at Council’s Zoning & Franchises Subcommittee hearing, Kramer Levin attorney Michael Sillerman stated that as-of-right construction would create a wedding cake structure, and that the modifications would create harmony between the Lord Norman Foster-designed building and the Seagram Building. Sam Schwartz, of Sam Schwartz Engineering, stated that the absence of a loading berth within the site would not create a significant increase in traffic congestion because of mitigation measures such as dedicated service elevators, nighttime deliveries, and off-duty police officers for parking enforcement.

Veronika Conant, President of the West 54-55 Street Block Association, testified in opposition, stating that a text amendment was not necessary to achieve the stated goals of the project. Instead, she suggested using an existing provision of the zoning law that allows for bulk modifications. Conant then echoed Community Board 5’s concerns that allowing a text amendment for one building in the Special Midtown District could set a potentially dangerous precedent.

The Subcommittee approved the proposal without comment, as did the Land Use Committee and full Council.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 5,Den’d, 36-0-1
CPC: App’d, 10-1-0
Council: App’d, 49-0-3

Council: 610 Lexington Ave. (August 14, 2008).

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