Real Estate and Politics

Midtown East Steering Committee to Make Everyone Happy

Grand Central Station

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Midtown Council Member Dan Garodnick will lead a steering committee in planning the city’s Midtown East rezoning, Capital New York reported yesterday.

Representatives from a mishmash of 10 organizations, including Community Boards 5 and 6, preservation groups like the Historic Districts Council, business organizations like the Grand Central Partnership, urban planning research groups like the Regional Plan Association and the industry’s advocacy group, the Real Estate Board of New York, will figure out a way to jumpstart the 73-block rezoning proposal that died in the City Council last winter. Read More

Developing Situations

Art Students League Approves Extell Cantilever

A rendering of the planned tower at 217 W. 57th Street.

At a meeting last night, members of the Art Students League approved Extell’s controversial plan to cantilever a 1,424-foot skyscraper above the school’s landmarked French Renaissance building on W. 57th Street. The Smith + Gordon Gill-designed tower, to rise at 217 West 57th Street, has now cleared the final roadblock needed to move forward with construction. Read More

Developing Situations

Extell Gives Art Students League a Deadline: Approve Cantilever by Wednesday or Lose $31.8 M. Deal

Could the project move forward without a cantilever?

Extell’s controversial plan to cantilever a 1,424-foot skyscraper at 217 West 57th Street over the Art Students League, which won city approval last fall, will be abandoned if the League’s members reject the deal at a vote tonight, according to the developer. Extell has promised to walk away from the deal, which would net the League $31.8 million, and move forward without the cantilever, if the League does not reach an agreement by Wednesday night. Read More

Year in Real Estate

Hold the MSG: World’s Most Famous Arena Gets 10 Years to Find New Home

Madison Square Garden Renewed

There had been rumblings for years.

Ever since the original Penn Station was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden in the 1960s, commuters and architecture critics alike bemoaned the cramped subterranean train hub and the unsightly arena perched above it.

Then, like a spark, Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times architecture critic, brought the debate to the fore with a column in February urging the City Council to deny Madison Square Garden’s request to renew its permit to operate in perpetuity. With a request set to begin the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal moment.

Read More

Midtown East Rezoning

Grand Central Owner Argues Air Rights are Undervalued

Grand Central Terminal

Andrew Penson, president and founder of Argent Ventures, owner of Grand Central Terminal, is fighting back against the Midtown East rezoning plan, which Mr. Penson argues undervalues the 1.3 million square feet of transferable development rights acquired along with the rail station, Crain’s New York reported.

As part of the rezoning proposal, the city is planning to charge $250 per square foot for development rights allowing developers to build larger towers in the Midtown East submarket. The city’s price, Mr. Penson argues, is half of what Argent values the air rights at. Read More


City Planning Proposes 15-Year Limit for MSG Special Permit


At a meeting yesterday, the City Planning Commission proposed a 15-year term for Madison Square Garden’s application for a special permit to operate an arena of more than 2,500 seats. The proposal, some way short of MSG’s request the permit be renewed in perpetuity, is still a small victory over previous suggestions of a 10-year limit.

Opponents of Madison Square Garden’s request point to the need for a renovated Penn Station, a process which is inhibited by the arena’s location. A term limit, they say, provides ample time for both Madison Square Garden to find a new location and for plans for a new Penn Station to be drawn up. Read More


New York Civic Groups Team Up to Promote New Penn Station

The Regional Plan Association and Municipal Art Society have launched a campaign to promote the renovation of Penn Station and possible relocation of Madison Square Garden, it was announced today.

As previously reported by The Commercial Observer, Madison Square Garden is seeking renewal of its special permit application to operate an arena with more than 2,500 seats. Last month, Community Board 5 recommended any permit be restricted to 10 years. The application will also be reviewed by the Manhattan Borough President and City Planning Commission before a decision is made by the City Council. Read More


CB 5 Recommends Denial of Proposed MSG Special Permit Application

At a meeting last night, Community Board 5 in Manhattan unanimously recommended a proposed special permit application from Madison Square Garden to operate an arena with more than 2,500 seats be denied unless certain parameters are met, Wally Rubin, district manager, told The Commercial Observer this morning.

“Just to be clear, this isn’t about any frustrations or lack of understanding that the Garden is an important part of New York and is an economic driver for the City,” added Raju Mann, acting chair of CB5’s Land Use Committee.

The Garden is currently going through New York’s uniform land use review procedure (ULURP) to renew the special permit.

The Garden’s original special permit expired last month and the arena is currently operating under a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy. The TCO is standard while a building is under construction, according to a Madison Square Garden spokesperson. Read More