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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

400 Fifth Avenue, request for (i) a zoning text amendment to ZR Sections 81-212, 81-81 and 81-85  (ii) a special permit pursuant to ZR Sections 74-79, 81-212 and 81-85 and (iii) a special permit pursuant to ZR Section 81-277 to modify ZR Section 81-27

WHEREAS, 400 Fifth Realty LLC is proposing to construct a 57-story building designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, containing residential, hotel and retail uses at 400 Fifth Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The zoning lot containing 400 Fifth Avenue is located within the Special Fifth Avenue Subdistrict of the Special Midtown District at 36th Street; and

WHEREAS, After a previous owner and previous architect came before Community Board Five, the applicant, who became the owner in November 2005 and hired new architects, came before Community Board Five and its Landmarks Committee in October 2006 to present this project, the building's proposed design and a preservation plan for 401 Fifth Avenue, at which time the Board voted to approve the project; and

WHEREAS, The Landmarks Preservation Commission considered this project at a hearing on 10/31/06 and a public meeting on 11/14/06, and after the applicant continued to make minor modifications to the proposal, issued its unanimous approval and a favorable report to the Department of City Planning on 12/1/06; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is requesting from the Department of City Planning a Special Permit to allow the transfer of 173,692 square feet of floor area from the zoning lot directly across the street containing 401 Fifth Avenue, which is the Tiffany & Company Building, a designated landmark; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is requesting a waiver of height and set-back requirements that would permit the current design to be built without encroaching upon or overshadowing the adjacent building, 404 Fifth Avenue, which is a designated landmark; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is requesting a special permit to modify the Zoning Resolution to permit it to provide only half of the normally required pedestrian circulation space, i.e., approximately 800 square feet instead of approximately 1600 square feet, because the applicant maintains that to provide all of the space would have a negative impact on the Fifth Avenue street wall; and

WHEREAS, After a study of the traffic on West 36th Street as well as Fifth Avenue, the applicant will locate the hotel entrance on Fifth Avenue, adjacent to the retail spaces, and the service and residential entrances on West 36th Street; and

WHEREAS, Since current rules in the Fifth Avenue Special District do not permit hotel entrances on Fifth Avenue,  the applicant is  requesting a text amendment that will permit it to have the hotel entrance on Fifth Avenue; and

WHEREAS, Although concerns were raised about the value of the Preservation Plan for 401 Fifth Avenue as compared to the value of the development rights being transferred and the desirability of such a tall tower with no setbacks being built near the Empire State Building, it was felt that because 401 Fifth Avenue already had a Preservation Plan in place from a previous transfer of development rights, and due to the superior quality design for the proposed building, one that was unanimously approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, that these concerns should not be obstacles to our support for this project; and  

WHEREAS, This new building, designed to be harmonious with the adjacent buildings, including the Empire State Building, will bring new retail, hotel and residential resources to a section of midtown that will benefit from a development of this quality;  therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application for 400 Fifth Realty LLC for special permits to allow the transfer of 173,692 square feet of floor area from the zoning lot containing 401 Fifth Avenue, to provide a reduced amount of Pedestrian Circulation Space as set forth in their application, to modify height and set-back requirements as set forth in their application, and to permit a hotel entrance on Fifth Avenue.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 22 in favor, 13 opposed, 2 abstentions, 1 present not entitled to vote.  

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