Midtown garage approved for public parking

Accessory garage’s 1973-issued certificate of occupancy permitted transient parking as secondary use. On March 10, 2010, the City Planning Commission approved Central Parking Systems’ application for a special permit to convert an existing 213- space accessory parking garage at 159 West 48th Street in Manhattan into a 220-space public parking garage. Central Parking would also provide 23 bicycle parking spaces.

The garage occupies six floors and the roof of a seven-story building with ground floor retail. The facility was built in 1973 as an accessory parking garage for an office building located at 1185 Sixth Avenue. Its certificate of occupancy permits transient parking as a secondary use. In October 2009, Buildings issued Central Parking a notice of violation for operating the garage as a public parking facility contrary to its certificate of occupancy.

At the Commission’s February 10 hearing, Anthony Borelli, Land Use Director for Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, said that Stringer supported the application, but was concerned about the effect of the rooftop parking on adjacent residential buildings. Borelli noted that Central Parking had agreed to install additional rooftop screening to shield nearby buildings from the headlights of vehicles on the roof.

Commissioner Irwin Cantor expressed concerns about allowing parking garages to operate on an “as-caught basis,” in which garage owners operate illegally and only apply for legalization after coming to Buildings’ attention. Cantor asked Borelli whether the borough president had considered whether any punitive measures should be taken in these situations. Borelli responded that Stringer had not considered it to that extent.

Representing the applicant, attorney Howard Zipser said the garage was not operating illegally, noting that the certificate of occupancy contained clear language permitting both accessory and transient parking. He said that at the time of its construction, it was common procedure to allow parking facilities related to large commercial buildings in Midtown to offer transient and accessory parking. Zipser said Central Parking bought the garage in 2007 and was seeking to bring the facility into legal compliance prior to reselling it. According to Zipser, the special permit would more fully reflect the garage’s current usage.

The Commission unanimously approved the application, noting that on-street parking is limited in the surrounding area and that a public parking facility would serve nearby commercial office buildings and other entertainment and hotel uses around Times Square.

Review Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 5,App’d, 32-0-2
Boro.Pres.: App’d
CPC: App’d, 11-0-0
Council: Pending

CPC: 159 West 48th Street (C 090367 ZSM – spec. perm.) (Mar. 25, 2010).

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