Zoning Subcommittee Approves One Vanderbilt Project, With Modifications

Architect's rendering of One Vanderbilt Place and Grand Central Terminal. Image credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Architect’s rendering of One Vanderbilt Place and Grand Central Terminal. Image credit: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Proposal returns to City Planning with additional infrastructure improvements.  On May 5, 2015 the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises voted to modify and approve the proposed One Vanderbilt skyscraper project and Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning plan.  (See previous CityLand coverage here.) The proposal as approved now includes a second transit hall on 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, as well as a 22 percent increase in the below-grade pedestrian space. The below-grade increase allows for direct transfer between subway riders and the future East Side Access extension of the Long Island Railroad without having to go up through Grand Central’s main concourse first. The modifications amount to an extra $10 million in infrastructure improvements, increasing developer SL Green’s total investment cost to $220 million after earlier modifications by the City Planning Commission.

Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who represents East Midtown, gave a statement in support of the modified proposal, believing it corrected the deficiencies of the East Midtown rezoning previously proposed under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The councilmember described One Vanderbilt as the first phase of a new two-pronged approach to East Midtown, providing needed infrastructure improvements to the immediate Grand Central area with the rest of East Midtown to follow.  Said Councilmember Garodnick, “My concerns from last term, which included the fact so much certainty was afforded to the development community without any real guarantees for the public, do not exist here.  That is because the City and the public maintain full discretion to approve or deny each application through a special permit.  Any applicant along the [Vanderbilt] Corridor will have the burden of convincing the public that the proposed infrastructure improvements are worthy of the additional development rights.  We in turn will demand that any improvements to area infrastructure are done and delivered to the public in advance of occupancy of the building.”

Councilmember and Zoning Chair Mark Weprin praised the One Vanderbilt proposal as beneficial to all New York and not just East Midtown, stating many people in his district and the outer boroughs in general work in the Vanderbilt Corridor area, and this would benefit them for years to come.  The modified proposal returns to the City Planning Commission for consideration before moving on to the Council’s full Land Use Committee.

City Council: Public Hearing LU 0197-2015, LU 0198-2015, LU 0199-2015, LU 0200-2015, LU 201-2015 (May 5, 2015).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014)

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