Thursday, May 20, 2010

MBPO Votes Yes to 15 Penn Plaza redevelopment

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer Announces Conditional Approval For Proposed Redevelopment Of 15 Penn Plaza
The full document is available for download here.
New York, May 19, 2010 – Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer announced today his conditional approval of proposed zoning changes that would facilitate the redevelopment of the current Hotel Pennsylvania site on Seventh Avenue between West 32nd and West 33rd Streets as a commercial office building and make significant improvements to mass transit.
Borough President Stringer’s favorable recommendation rests on a judgment that the applicant, Vornado, follows through on commitments secured by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office. These conditions for approval relate to:
Increasing access to open space by:
  • Working with the City Planning and Parks and Recreations Departments to determine the appropriate form of mitigation for open space impacts; and
  • Providing accessible open space on the proposed building’s podium to reduce impacts on nearby public open spaces;
Managing traffic by:
  • Implementing the new off-street truck loading plan for the Multi-Tenant Building that will allow trucks to enter and exit head first;
  • Creating a black car management plan for the Single-Tenant Building;
  • Hiring a dock master to coordinate loading and unloading activities; and
  • Updating traffic studies to reflect new traffic initiatives in Midtown;
Reducing pedestrian impacts by:
  • Working with the Department of Transportation to widen crosswalks and other pedestrian elements; and
  • Working with the 34th Street Partnership to relocate any planters which may serve as an obstruction to pedestrian movement;
Mitigating construction by:
  • Implementing path controls to address construction noise issues;
  • Studying additional measures that may be undertaken to reduce noise impacts;
  • Establishing a construction taskforce to address and respond to construction impacts and issues, which meets regularly as required by the phasing and nature of construction and includes representatives from the community board, local council member and other local stakeholders; and
  • Having a single point of contact during construction to resolve any community concerns;
Improving sidewalk conditions by:
  • Working with Community Board 5 and the Parks Department to determine appropriate locations for the 56 street trees that cannot be planted at the perimeter of the development site; and
  • Incorporating street wall design elements to the West 32nd Street façade of the Single-Tenant Building to enliven the pedestrian experience.
Borough President Stringer said, “I’m pleased that the applicant has agreed to mitigate the impacts relating to open space, traffic, pedestrian access, construction, and sidewalk conditions in addition to making the significant, positive mass transit improvements already associated with this development. 15 Penn Plaza lies in one of the few remaining areas of Midtown that offers both major development potential and access to multiple mass transit options, making it an excellent location for high density commercial growth. I look forward to working with the community to address concerns relating to the development and construction of this project.”
The project site consists of the entire city block bounded by West 32nd and West 33rd Streets, and Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  The proposed office building would be constructed at the western end of the project site where the Hotel Pennsylvania currently stands.  The remainder of the project site is occupied by the Manhattan Mall, a 14-story office and retail building.  Vornado plans to merge the development site and the Manhattan Mall site into a single zoning lot.
The two proposed development scenarios – a Single-Tenant Building and a Multi-Tenant Building – incorporate the maintenance of the Manhattan Mall and demolition of Hotel Pennsylvania.  Either of the proposed office buildings will have, at minimum, a LEED Silver rating.  The applicant proposes the same mass transit improvements for each development scenario. 
Borough President Stringer made his advisory recommendation on the project as part of his Charter role in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The proposed project must also be approved by the City Planning Commission, which will hold its hearing on Wednesday, May 26, 2010, at its offices at 22 Reade Street. The project must also be approved by the City Council.