Grand Central Upgrades and One Vanderbilt Construction Begins

City Officials Break Ground at One Vanderbilt. Image Credit: Office of the Mayor

City Officials Break Ground at One Vanderbilt. Image Credit: Office of the Mayor

City Officials and developer broke ground on the new One Vanderbilt office building and $220 million transit upgrade of Grand Central. On October 18, 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Council Member Dan Garodnick joined the developer SL Green for the on-site groundbreaking ceremony. The new office tower will reach 1,401 feet and cover the city block west of Grand Central. The tower is expected to achieve LEED gold certification and contain 1.7 million-square-feet of office space across 58 floors. The One Vanderbilt project met resistance at the Community level but was ultimately approved by City Planning and the City Council with additional concessions by the developer. See CityLand’s previous coverage here and here.

As part of the rezoning and construction proposal, SL Green agreed to invest $220 million in transit and infrastructure improvements to the tunnels below Grand Central. Currently Grand Central’s Lexington Line services 154,000 riders a day. The improvements will add staircases, renovate the subway mezzanine and ease overcrowded subway platforms. A 4,000-square-foot transit hall will be constructed on the ground floor of One Vanderbilt with a direct connection to the subway, MetroNorth and future LIRR stop. The improvements are slated for completion in 2020, and will increase the Lexington Avenue line’s capacity allowing for an additional 2,200 riders per hour.


Planned connection between One Vanderbilt and Grand Central. Image Credit: SL Green

The private investment to Grand Central as part of the proposed development was “smart growth,” declared Mayor de Blasio. “This strategy helps to keep our city competitive while improving the lives of New Yorkers.”

“It’s gratifying to be breaking ground not just on this building, but on what it represents: a massive investment in our transit and pedestrian infrastructure, and a first step toward the future of East Midtown,” said Borough President Brewer. “When development is done carefully, collaboratively, and produces real investments in the public realm that improve neighborhood, everyone wins.”

The development precedes City Planning’s proposal for the creation of the 78-block East Midtown Subdistrict which would encompass One Vanderbilt. The newly formed Subdistrict within the Special Midtown District would permit underbuilt landmarks to transfer unused development rights throughout the Subdistrict to new developments. The Subdistrict would also remove restrictions on pre-1961 building redevelopments. Finally, new developments in close proximity to transit nodes would be required to invest in transit infrastructure projects in exchange for floor area, as in the One Vanderbilt project. The rezoning plan will enter its public review stage by the end of the 2016.

“Mayor de Blasio, SL Green, Local Officials Break Ground on New Office Tower, $220 Million in Transit Upgrades for Riders at Grand Central,” Mayor’s Press Office (Oct. 18, 2016).

By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).

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