General Motors Plaza renovations approved

Redesign will feature a glass cube in the center of the plaza and a more accessible public space. On June 23, 2005, the City Council approved a text amendment to the Special Midtown District allowing renovations to the General Motors building plaza, located at 767 Fifth Avenue between East 59th and East 58th Streets. The text amendment was necessary to alter the street wall and retail continuity requirements, which require that larger developments be built at the street wall.

The most prominent feature in the plaza’s redesign will be the construction of a 32-foot transparent glass cube in the center of the plaza fronting Fifth Avenue. The cube will contain an elevator and a glass stairway and will serve as an entryway to a 25,000-square-foot underground retail space. Other renovations to the Fifth Avenue frontage include regrading the plaza to lower its overall height, and adding two reflecting pools, tables and chairs, trees and planters, and a wide stone ledge around its perimeter for added seating. Renovations will also take place on the Madison Avenue side of the building, which will lose its open area when the retail space is extended out to the property line.

At the June 15, 2005 hearing of the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises, attorneys for Macklowe Properties, the owner, argued that the glass cube’s location across from Grand Army Plaza would create a great urban atmosphere. The full Land Use Committee approved.

ULURP Process: The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on February 28, 2005. Manhattan Community Board 5 and Borough President C. Virginia Fields approved.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on April 27, 2005, and approved the text amendment on May 25, 2005. In approving, the Commission found the street wall and retail continuity requirements inappropriate for this property and the glass cube entryway beneficial to the underground retail space.

Council: General Motors Plaza (June 23, 2005); CPC: General Motors Plaza (N 050117 ZRM -text amendment) (May 25, 2005). CITYADMIN

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