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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

1 Penn Plaza - application for an open air cafe with three kiosks in the existing public plaza b/t 33rd and 34th Streets, east of 8th Avenue.

WHEREAS, 1 Penn Plaza ("the plaza") is located in a single zoning lot on the block bounded by Seventh Avenue, West 33rd Street, Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street, was built in 1972 and contains a 50,095 sf as-of-right plaza in 16 separate sections; and

WHEREAS, The Plaza was built before the enactment of the extensive rules regulating urban plazas in the zoning resolution; and

WHEREAS, This application is for the western section of the plaza (the "West Plaza") of approximately 20,000 sf which is of varying depths fronting on parts of West 33rd Street and West 34th Street and a largely through block open space between the west end of 1 Penn Plaza and a one story buildings at Eighth Avenue; and 

WHEREAS, Currently the only amenities in the West Plaza are curved benches without backs and an inoperable fountain, which is now used as a planter.  These amenities were introduced in the mid 1990s as part of a planned request for a nighttime closing, which was not ultimately pursued; and

WHEREAS, The West Plaza is substantially above grade on both the 33rd and 34th street sides, and the surface of the plaza is the roof of a garage located below the West Plaza; and

WHEREAS, The West Plaza is currently underutilized because of its few amenities and as a result is of little value to the surrounding neighborhood; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes three new outdoor food kiosks for the public and new a outdoor cafe with 160 seats run by Café Luggo, the restaurant that currently operates in the building adjacent to the plaza; and

WHEREAS, The outdoor cafe will cover approximately 3,000 sf, far less than the 20% allowed for in the zoning text; and

WHEREAS, In addition, there will be 96 new moveable chairs and 25 tables for the public, and an additional 168 linear feet of benches for public use.  These amenities (tables and chairs) are for the public to freely use and do not require a purchase from the proposed outdoor café or food kiosk; and

WHEREAS, There will be additional of greenery (new tress and planting), new signage, bicycle rack, and new lighting; and

WHEREAS, Although the West Plaza is limited in its ability to have new trees because the floor is not the ground, but the roof of a garage, the operator made a commitment to the committee to plant seasonal flowers to supplant their planned new trees; and

WHEREAS, There will be a new sculpture which will serve as public art, which can also be used as additional seating for the public; and

WHEREAS, The modification includes significant improvements to the remaining outdoor space; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application for certification of the design modification to 1 Penn Plaza pursuant to ZR §37-625 and permission to operate an open air cafe pursuant to ZR §37-73.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 41 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining.

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