The Department of City Planning certified a five-block rezoning application today for a stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue adjacent to Grand Central Terminal in Midtown East that includes SL Green Realty Corp.‘s proposed 67-story, 1.3-million-square-foot 1 Vanderbilt office tower.
The announcement officially kicks off the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, sending the contentious plan for successive evaluations by Manhattan Community Boards 5 and 6, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the City Planning Commission and finally to the City Council. The certification could also restart the momentum behind the larger 73-block Midtown East rezoning that failed in the City Council last year.
“The proposed zoning change for the Vanderbilt Corridor is phase one of our efforts to ensure a vibrant and productive future for East Midtown which is something that the business community, the local community and indeed the entire city desires and needs,” said Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod in a prepared statement. “Consistent with our approach to planning under this administration, this proposed zoning coordinates new development with appropriate infrastructure and services by requiring the developers of major new buildings to provide specific and significant public transit and public realm improvements.”
While a steering committee led by Ms. Brewer and Council Member Dan Garodnick is currently examining the larger Midtown East area ahead of any new applications, observers are watching the Vanderbilt Corridor proposal closely to see whether a Grand Central landlord partnership that includes Argent Ventures succeeds in altering the proposal to include purchase of some of the terminal’s unused air rights, as well as the timing and extent of the transit upgrades the city will require from SL Green in exchange for authorization to build up to 1,350 feet on the site. SL Green has outlined $210 million in public transportation benefits that company officials would implement under the plan.
“Midtown Manhattan is the engine that drives New York’s economy and today we begin the process of investing in the future of this vital commercial district,” said SL Green CEO Marc Holliday in a prepared statement. “At the doorstep of our city’s greatest transit hub, One Vanderbilt is already attracting interest from major tenants as the first state-of-the-art, transit-oriented office tower built in the heart of Midtown in a generation.”
Officials with the Real Estate Board of New York welcomed news of the application’s certification.
“The Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning is an integral step to ensuring that Midtown Manhattan maintains its status as a global business center,” said REBNY President Steven Spinola in a prepared statement. “This project will result in brand new modern office space that tenants demand. This project includes detailed plans to improve the experience of commuting through Grand Central Terminal by adding staircases, opening up the mezzanine level to increase circulation and increasing space at track level which will ease congestion. These improvements will ensure that businesses will continue to be attracted to Midtown Manhattan and generate more tax revenue to fund vital city services.