Signs ok’ed for Rockefeller Center’s new observation deck

Full Council approved zoning amendment granting special authority to Planning Commission Chair. On June 23, 2005, the City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the zoning resolution allowing the Chair of the Planning Commission to authorize the use of illuminated signs in lots occupied by a landmark. The amended zoning resolution applied only to the Fifth Avenue Subdistrict of the Special Midtown District, and impacts the New York Public Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Thomas Church in addition to Rockefeller Center. Under the approved text, Landmarks must approve the signs before the Commission’s Chair can approve.

Rockefeller Center sought to place 16 illuminated signs at four locations: the entrance to Channel Gardens, Atlas Court, and two internal locations in Rockefeller Plaza. The signs would inform visitors of the soon-to-be-reopened observation roof on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza and upcoming Plaza events. Retail advertising would be prohibited. The kiosks would replicate the kiosks that were located in Rockefeller Plaza until the early 1980’s when the observation roof was closed.

At the Council Subcommittee hearing on June 15, 2005, Kramer Levin, attorneys for the building owner, Tishman Speyer, explained that the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the signage in April, 2004. The Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the full Land Use Committee unanimously approved.

ULURP Process The Planning Commission, as lead agency, issued a negative declaration on March 14, 2005. Community Board 5 and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields approved. At the Commission’s April 27, 2005 hearing, no one appeared in opposition. On May 25, 2005, the Commission, with Commissioner Irwin G. Cantor recused, voted to approve, finding that the text amendment would allow greater flexibility and alert pedestrians to the location of landmark features. Chair Amanda Burden stated that in granting the required Chair Certification she would “be vigilant to insure that the design of the 16 signs will indeed be replicas of the original signs.”

Council: Rockefeller Center Signs (June 23, 2005); CPC: Rockefeller Center Signs (N 050297 ZRM – text amendment) (May 25, 2005). CITYADMIN

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