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Manhattan Community Board Five


the borough of manhattan

mark levine, borough president

manhattan community board five

vikki barbero, chair   marisa maack, district manager

Minutes of the regular Community Board Five meeting held on Thursday, January 13, 2022 via teleconferencing, at 6:00pm. Vikki Barbero, Chair, presided.   

Members Present

David Achelis

Nicholas Athanail

Zach Bahor

Vikki Barbero

James Beitchman

Mary Brosnahan

Sarah Dowson

Julie Chou

Natalie Diggins

Aaron Ford

Joseph Frewer

Laura Garcia

Nancy Goshow

John Harris Jr.

Marc Hershberg

William Heyer

Robert Isaacs

Samuel Johnson

Michael Kaback

Kathy Kahng

Renee Kinsella

Samir Lavingia

Layla Law-Gisiko

Sam Levy

Megan Lione

Maki Thomas Livesay

Blaga Lucic

Joseph Maffia

Kimberly McCall

Charles Miller

Tod Shapiro

David Sigman

Craig Slutzkin

Sonderland, Jean

Sarah BJ Sung

Pete Webb

Ryan Whalen

July Yang

Present Part

Tristan Haas

Noah Stern


Pete Webb


Fortunato Castro

Matthew Hartman

E.J. Kalafarski

Clayton Smith

Daniel Spence

Barbara Spandorf

Public Members

Miriam Berman

Suzanne Johnson

Tony Testa

Elected Officials

Brad Hoylman


Erik Bottcher


Keith Powers


Mark Levine

Manhattan Borough President

Alvin Bragg

Manhattan DA

Alexis Richards

Councilmember Rivera


Matt Tighe

Assembly Member Gottfried

Justin Flagg

Senator Krueger


Marisa Maack

District Manager 

Public Attendees 

Rosalind Barbour

Joseph Bauman

Cole Bernard

Kendra Collins

Carla Downie

Dorit Eliyahu

Lola Finkelstein

Mike Fissinger

Roberta Gelb

Brenda Levin

Larry Marcus

Lloyd Mark

Val McNamara

Wesley O’Brien

 Anne Riccitelli

Gerald Scupp

Yafi Shafer-Sul

Lisa Wager

John West

  1. Lawrence Wheatman

Anastasios Zias

Zool Zulkowitz


At 6:00 p.m., the Manhattan Community Board Five January 13, 2022 Full Board meeting was called to order by the Chair, Vikki Barbero who announced that the request to extend remote meetings for Community Boards beyond the January 15th was approved and passed by both the New York State Assembly and the Senate and is now awaiting the Governor's signature.

Councilmember Erik Bottcher: stated that this was his first CB5 meeting as a councilmember and wanted to come by and say how excited he was to work with CB5 and looks forward to partnering very closely with the Community Board on all the issues facing the neighborhoods. He announced that Laurie Harjowaroga will be staying on as his CB5 liaison and introduced his Chief of Staff Sean Coughlin. He noted that there is a new Speaker, Adrianne Adams. He spoke of his meeting with the Sanitation Commissioner and noted that one of his top priorities as Councilmember is to help address the sanitation crisis facing neighborhoods. He said he followed up that meeting with a letter asking for the return of street sweeping to two days a week and that they restore corner basket service. He also stated that he met with District Attorney Bragg to address the public safety issues in the district. He reported that he will be bringing back participatory budgeting to the district. He reported spending time with Mark Levine delivering COVID-19 self-test kits to public housing and tenants associations. 

Councilmember Keith Powers: spoke of the challenging times during COVID for CB5 to do the work that they’re doing and thanked Board members for the amazing work. He also spoke of the election of Speaker Adrianne Adams. He also noted that he was very fortunate to be appointed the Majority Leader. He thanked CB5 and also CB6 as well for a couple of rezonings in the East Midtown area and stated that the biggest one was the Grand Hyatt right next to Grand Central, which is a mega project and is going to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for the MTA. He stated that the project will provide the district with a new transit hall at Grand Central, a new arts and cultural space, a hotel and office space. He spoke of a couple other things happening over the holidays such as the pedestrianization of Rockefeller Center and the areas around it. He announced that he has also continued working with some of the BIDs in the district including the Flatiron BID, which has recently extended its borders to include parts of CB5 and has also been focusing on businesses in Koreatown who have been asking for help with trash service, road conditions and DOT services. He discussed City Council’s discretionary funding application, which just opened up. He also announced that Community Board application season has started. 

Senator Brad Hoylman: reported that the legislative session has started and a bill passed that will allow New York to have secure ballot boxes at a secure location rather than waiting in line. He also reported on the passing of a number of other bills to expand voting including reducing the amount of time needed to register reduced to 10 days. He also announced another important bill that passed the Senate that would allow all public bodies to continue video conference options and to meet virtually. He stated that he has reintroduced legislation to allow virtual meetings to be permanent for voluntary boards like community boards and school boards. He also stated that he led a hearing this week on the new Judge to the Court of Appeals Shirley Troutman who is Governor Hochul's first judicial nominee and the second black woman to serve on the Court of Appeals. Senator Hoylman also announced a hearing on Good Cause Eviction legislation and encouraged everyone to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance program. He stated that there is a need for a longer-term strategy and legislation to protect tenants who do not live in rent stabilized or otherwise regulated units by providing limits on the ability of a landlord to evict a tenant or impose unreasonable rent increases. He reported on a bill he is continuing to work on, the Adult Survivors Act, that allows adult survivors of child sexual abuse an one-year retroactive window to file claims against their abusers or the institutions that may have protected them. 

District Attorney Alvin Bragg: gave a brief history of his work experiences. He stated that his focus will be on violent crimes. He reported on discussions about commercial robberies, which he takes with the utmost seriousness and to prosecute armed robbery as a felony. He stated he would like to take this opportunity to rebut some of the things that have been floating around. He wants to focus on the fairness in the system and making sure that people who have mental health challenges or substance abuse be diverted into programs and services. 

Justin Flagg, Senator Krueger’s Office: announced Senator Krueger is hosting a virtual town hall on the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund, which is a federally funded program to provide assistance to small homeowners, condo owners and co-op shareholders who are struggling with mortgage payments, property taxes and maintenance fees as a result of COVID-19. He provided the link to the website for the fund for anyone who is interested and stated that applications are being accepted now on a first come, first serve basis until the money runs out. He spoke of the January 6 anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and stated that Senator Krueger introduced a bill to create an annual day of commemoration on January 6 called Democracy Day. It would honor the 138 capitol police officers who were wounded and the five officers who died as a result of the attack and to remember the need to protect our democratic institutions and to recognize the ongoing threat of anti-democratic white nationalist and authoritarian movements in the United States. He also announced that last week Governor Hochul gave her first State of the State address in which she laid out her priorities for the coming year and stated that anyone interested in what the state government might be tackling this year is encouraged to read the State of the State book that the Governor's office put out laying out her plans. He also announced that on Tuesday, the Governor will be releasing her executive budget proposal for this year. 

Matt Tighe, Assembly Member Gottfried’s Office: stated that last month Assembly Member Gottfried announced that he will be retiring at the end of the current legislative term and that he is currently in his 52nd year in the Assembly and will retire as the longest serving State Legislator in New York's history. He stated that the Assembly Member has been very grateful to all the communities in CB5 and the privilege of representing them in Albany for decades and looks forwards to continuing the work through the end of this year. He stated that in the past couple weeks Governor Hochul signed a number of bills sponsored by the Assembly Member. One bill would expand the Certificate of Need process to require health equity assessments as part of applications. He also noted two bills protecting water quality: the first would lower the allowable lead levels for school drinking water and the second will establish the state's first comprehensive emergency contaminant monitoring list to ensure broad testing for dangerous chemicals within our water supply. Finally, he noted a law was signed to regulate pharmacy benefit managers known as PBMs for for-profit entities that manage prescription drug benefits. 

Alexis Richardson, Councilmember Rivera’s Office: announced that the Councilwoman has been working to increase access to COVID testing in local communities. She noted that the Councilmember sent a letter with signatures from 41 additional council members to Governor Hochul asking that as many at home test kits as possible be directed to New York City. She stated that this is because the majority of at-home test kit stock is being directed to the Department of Education now for the Governor's Test-to-Stay program. She stated that the Councilmember is hoping to get more at-home test kits to the neighborhood to relieve the pressure on city hospitals. She announced that the Councilmember is hosting a pop-up PCR testing site on 7th Street and Avenue B. She stated that the fiscal year 2023 discretionary funding supplemental form has launched and stated that any organization interested in applying can do so on the City Council’s website.

Betsy Smidt, Congresswoman Maloney’s Office: stated that the Congresswoman is thrilled that her support of the American Rescue Plan is soon going to pay off big for New Yorkers. She noted that the Department of Transportation announced this week that they are awarding a $6.2 billion grant to the MTA to create job security for 66,000 frontline workers at the MTA to help avoid rate hikes and maintain service levels while keeping the New York transportation moving. She stated that New York artists and arts organizations have been deeply impacted by COVID and so this week the Congresswoman announced her first round of recommendations for the National Endowment of the Arts awards, which totals approximately two million dollars in grants to be distributed across 85 award recipients including many in CB5. She stated that as her role as chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, the congresswoman is leading the efforts to protect against cyber security attacks by sponsoring an update to the Federal Information Security Management Act, which will take action to thwart dynamic attacks facing our information networks and our supply chains by malicious foreign actors. She stated last week marked the one-year anniversary of the violent domestic terrorist attack on the nation's capital and that the Congresswoman is leading an Oversight Committee charge to preserve the sanctity of our elections, prevent abuses of power and investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities that took place on January 6. 

Sean Coughlin, Councilmember Bottcher’s Office: announced that he was glad to be back to serving CB5.

Philip Ellison, Public Advocate Williams Office: announced brief updates from Public Advocate’s office. He reported on the appointee to the City Planning Commission. He also spoke of reviewing the failings of some of the past housing proposals and releasing the worst landlords watch list, which helped a lot of tenant groups, activists and tenants hold some of these landlords accountable. He thanked CB5 for the delegation of members on the Penn State Redevelopment project and for bringing together the Public Advocate’s office to really understand some of the perspectives, context and realities with the Penn Station Redevelopment project. 

Lisa Wager, Fashion Institute of Technology: announced that the college is back in remote status and will postpone the start of the spring semester by one week. They will resume in-person classes then, but everyone will have to show a negative PCR test that's less than 72 hours old.  

The December 2021 minutes passed with a vote of 37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining, as follows: IN FAVOR: Achelis, Athanail, Bahor, Beitchman, Brosnahan, Chou, Diggins, Dowson, Ford, Frewer, Garcia, Goshow, Haas, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Heyer, Isaacs, Johnson, Kaback, Kahng, Kinsella, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Lione, Livesay, Lucic, Maffia, McCall, Miller, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Stern, Sung, Whalen, Yang. ABSTAIN: Barbero.

Chair Vikki Barbero invited new board member Jean Sonderand to give a brief introduction regarding their background and reasons for wanting to serve on the Board.

JOINT PARKS & PUBLIC SPACES AND LANDMARKS – clayton smith and layla law-gisiko 

Craig Slutzkin gave a brief presentation on the following joint committee resolution.


Application from the NYC Parks Department for the Renovation of the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park

WHEREAS, The NYC Parks Department (“Applicant”) is proposing the renovation of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park; and

WHEREAS, The Delacorte Theater, operated by The Public Theater and founded by Joseph Papp, is an open-air venue seating about 1820 guests in seats offering clear views of the stage, best known for The Public Theater's free Shakespeare in The Park, one of New York City's most beloved summer traditions, as well as other productions; and

WHEREAS, These productions were offered on a temporary stage in Central Park beginning in 1957; and in 1962, the city completed construction of a permanent home for the productions, with funding from philanthropist George Delacorte, with the first production in the new theater being The Merchant of Venice, starring George C. Scott and James Earl Jones; and

WHEREAS, The theatre is located in a picturesque setting with both Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle close by; and is a very popular venue, with most all events sold out, yet is not up to par with ADA upgrades and is in need of repair to existing deteriorating structures; and

WHEREAS, The proposed plan includes significant structural improvements to the lighting towers, patron seating, service windows, building exterior, canopy, fencing and signage, ADA accessibility, ticket booths, and backstage area; and

WHEREAS, The work is planned to commence at the end of the 2022 theatre season, and is budgeted at $77 million, with $41M to be supplied by NYC, and the balance from private donors, most of which is already accounted for, with no associated naming rights or signage currently planned; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five does have concerns about the degree of the accessibility at the box office for patrons in wheelchairs, which should have a front-approach design and not just side-approach, and asks the Applicant to continue their investigation to ensure the maximum possible accessibility in the renovation; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five recognizes the input from some members of the public that the proposed size and thickness of lettering in the signage on the building exterior can be viewed as heavy-handed, and asks the Applicant to ensure the signage is tastefully minimal while still achieving its aims of identifying the building; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five supports the application from the NYC Parks Department for the Renovation of the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five requests that the Applicant further investigate front-approach accessibility at box office and concession windows for patrons with disabilities, and requests that the Applicant further consider the final determination of size and thickness of lettering in the building exterior signage. 

After some discussion, the above Joint Committee resolution passed with a vote of 37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Achelis, Athanail, Bahor, Beitchman, Brosnahan, Chou, Diggins, Dowson, Ford, Frewer, Garcia, Goshow, Haas, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Heyer, Isaacs, Johnson, Kaback, Kahng, Kinsella, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Lione, Livesay, Lucic, Maffia, McCall, Miller, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Stern, Sung, Whalen, Yang. ABSTAIN: Barbero.

LANDMARKS – layla law-gisiko

Ms. Law-Gisiko gave a presentation on the following resolution:


Request for Reconsideration by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the determination of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places for Pennsylvania Plaza, aka Block 781


WHEREAS, Block 781 is a ‘superblock’ bounded by West 31st Street, West 33rd Street, 7th Avenue, and 8th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan; and

WHEREAS, The superblock is the site of Pennsylvania Plaza, designed by architect Charles Luckman Associates and, constructed simultaneously with the current Penn Station (rebuilt between 1963 and 1968), the aboveground plan includes the circular-plan Madison Square Garden (MSG) arena which opened on February 11, 1968, and the high-rise office tower 2 Penn Plaza, completed in 1969 and located on the west and east sides of the block and connected by a pedestrian skybridge; and

WHEREAS, This is the fourth venue to bear the name “Madison Square Garden”; the first two (1879 and 1890) of which were located on Madison Square on East 26th Street and Madison Avenue with the third Madison Square Garden (1925) further uptown at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street; and

WHEREAS, Re-cladding is underway at 2 Penn Plaza, involving the replacement of the structure’s dark façade with a lighter glass enclosure; and

WHEREAS, The original Penn Station — located on the site from its opening on August 9, 1910 until demolition began on October 28, 1963 — was an ornate station building considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style and one of the great architectural works of New York City; and

WHEREAS, The original station was designed by Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead, and Stanford White, who were giants in the architecture of their time and came to define the practice of urbanism; and

WHEREAS, According to SHPO’s statement, the NJ Transit submitted a request for comment to SHPO on September 28, 2020, for the status of existing historic resources as part of the approval process for planned minor construction of an elevator within Penn Station; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania Plaza was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in a resource evaluation dated April 7, 2021, citing criteria for inclusion in the areas of urban planning and transportation, historic preservation, and engineering design; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five only recently became aware of the determination of eligibility by happenstance and as a result of rigorous inquiry; and

WHEREAS, The New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) d/b/a Empire State Development (ESD) is the sponsor of a land use proposal to override New York City zoning rules to redevelop all or a portion nine blocks around Penn Station; and

WHEREAS, ESD was not the sponsor nor did they initiate the nomination process with the SHPO for evaluation of Pennsylvania Plaza; and

WHEREAS, Block 781, while depicted on ESD’s General Project Plan (GPP) Block and Lot Map, were not part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement  (DEIS); and

WHEREAS,  As part of the nomination process, each State is required to notify in writing the property owner(s), the State's intent to bring the nomination before the State Review Board; and

WHEREAS, The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, d/b/a Amtrak, a federally chartered corporation operated as a for-profit company (rather than a public authority) owns Penn Station; and

WHEREAS, The General Project Plan (GPP), bounded by West 30th Street, West 34th Street, 6th Avenue, and 9th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan is the revised vision for Penn Station and its adjacent environs and, pursuant to the provisions of the New York State Urban Development Corporation Act requirement and in response to calls for community engagement, the State convened  the Community Advisory Committee Working Group (CACWG); and 

WHEREAS, The determination of eligibility was not communicated directly to the CACWG, which works with ESD, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Amtrak, and NJ Transit; and

WHEREAS, Several members of Community Board Five participate on the CACWG; and

WHEREAS, The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation; and

WHEREAS, The National Register nomination process usually starts with a submission from property owners, historical societies, preservation organizations, governmental agencies, and other individuals or groups to the SHPO; and

WHEREAS, A determination of eligibility is a decision by the Department of Interior that a district, site, building, structure, or object meets the National Register criteria for evaluation although the property is not formally listed in the National Register; and

WHEREAS, The National Register is an authoritative guide to be used by federal, state, and local governments, private groups and citizens to identify the nation’s cultural resources and to indicate what properties should be considered for protection from destruction or impairment; and

WHEREAS, Further, the National Register was designed to be and is administered as a planning tool, with federal agencies undertaking a project having an effect on a listed or eligible property and required to provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended; and

WHEREAS, Because of Section 106, federal agencies must assume responsibility for the consequences of the projects they carry out, approve, or fund on historic properties and be publicly accountable for their decisions; and

WHEREAS, The SHPO coordinates the state’s historic preservation program and consults with agencies during Section 106 review; and

WHEREAS, Districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects are eligible for the National Register if they possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and: 1) are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history (Criterion A); 2) are associated with significant people (Criterion B); 3) embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, represent the work of a master, possess high artistic value, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction (Criterion C); or 4) may yield [archeological] information important in prehistory or history; and

WHEREAS, Properties that are younger than fifty years of age are ordinarily not eligible, unless they have achieved exceptional significance; and

WHEREAS, The SHPO administers programs authorized by both the NHPA of 1966 and the New York State Historic Preservation Act of 1980, with the same eligibility criteria used for both the State and National Registers; and

WHEREAS, The administered programs are separate and different from work undertaken by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which is “responsible for protecting New York City's architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status, and regulating them after designation”; and

WHEREAS, LPC designates historically significant properties as New York City Landmarks (NYCLs) and/or Historic Districts, following the criteria provided in the Local Laws of the City of New York, New York City Charter, Administrative Code, Title 25, Chapter 3. Buildings, properties, or objects are eligible for landmark status when a part of such resource is at least 30 years old; and

WHEREAS, NYCLs have a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation. There are four types of landmarks: individual landmark, interior landmark, scenic landmark, and historic district; and

WHEREAS, The SHPO cited Pennsylvania Plaza as eligible for the National Register under Criterion A in the areas of urban planning and transportation (with the decline of the railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad sold the property’s air rights and in exchange, the original 1910 Penn Station was demolished and a smaller underground station was constructed, and the proposed redevelopment combining MSG and 2 Penn Plaza office tower was viewed as a catalyst for economic development in the area by many in the business community) (SHPO Resource Evaluation, April 7, 2021); and

WHEREAS, Penn Station, as it currently stands, is a multi-level, subterranean railroad station constructed from 1963 to 1968 and then “expanded and renovated between the 1980s and 2000s by three railroads, Amtrak, Long Island Railroad (LIRR), and New Jersey Transit” (SHPO Resource Evaluation, April 7, 2021); and

WHEREAS, After the passage of fifty years, the reconstruction of Penn Station has not attained its own significance for what it reveals about the period in which it was built, rather than the historic period it was intended to depict; and

WHEREAS, The Pennsylvania Plaza complex was deemed significant by the SHPO under Criterion A in the area of historic preservation, related to the demolition of the original Penn Station which prompted tremendous public and editorial outcry and leading to years of local efforts to protect significant buildings; and

WHEREAS, The complex was also deemed eligible by the SHPO under Criterion C in the area of engineering for Madison Square Garden’s roof system — a 404-foot diameter steel cable suspension roof designed by structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel —the first permanent roof of this kind in New York City and one of the largest in the United States; and

WHEREAS, “Aboveground, the 1960s plan is readable with contributing features including Madison Square Garden, 2 Penn Plaza and its raised platform, with their connecting pedestrian bridge, the former taxiway that is closed to vehicular traffic, and the five entrance locations to Penn Station below” (SHPO Resource Evaluation, April 7, 2021); and

WHEREAS, Operational remnants in no way evoke the original engineering and architectural work of the original 1910 Penn Station, and is missing the “progression of spades, the light, the materials, and in no way speaks to the original architecture or its experience”; and 

WHEREAS, “Belowground, despite the application of non-historic materials, the historic circulation pattern from the 1960s on the upper and lower levels is extant” (SHPO Resource Evaluation, April 7, 2021); and

WHEREAS, “Surviving vestiges of the 1910 Penn Station include two stone eagles sited on Seventh Avenue, and belowground, iron and brass railings at several stair locations, a cast-iron partition located in the LIRR waiting area, and areas of stone paving” (SHPO Resource Evaluation, April 7, 2021); and

WHEREAS, In accordance with National Register Bulletin (NRB)-15, (Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 36 - Parks, Forests, and Public Property, Chapter I - National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Part 60 - National Register of Historic Places), to be eligible under Criterion C, “a property must clearly contain enough characteristics to be considered a true representative of a particular type, period, or method of construction representing the work of a master, possess high artistic value, and represent a significant and distinguishable entity”; and

WHEREAS, Moved and/or reconstructed properties not presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan are not usually considered for listing in the National Register; and

WHEREAS, The Resource Evaluation lacks a clear distinction between the possibly significant roof structure of Madison Square Garden and the insignificant rest of the building, and fails as a guide for future evaluation under Section 106 review because of its unclear limits; and

WHEREAS, The SHPO noted the period of significance as between 1963 to 1968, encompassing the redevelopment and construction of Madison Square Garden, 2 Penn Plaza, and Penn Station and not beginning 1910, in reference to the original Beaux-Arts Penn Station; and

WHEREAS, When evaluating a property for a period of significance, a range is used to define the importance of a property to the history, architecture, or culture of a community per NRB-15; and

WHEREAS, The vagueness of the determination of eligibility document throughout may cause difficulty in its use as a guide to review proposed alterations or tax credit projects in Section 106 review; and

WHEREAS, In 2018, however, the SHPO found no merit for Penn Station’s eligibility for the National Register when LIRR undertook the reconstruction of the North Concourse/new exit and SHPO determined that the site was ineligible; and

WHEREAS, That same year, the New York State legislature passed the Pennsylvania Station Public Safety Improvement Act of 2018, which “found and declared, that the rail and transportation facility known as New York Pennsylvania Station (‘Penn Station’) is antiquated, substandard, and inadequate to meet current transportation and public safety needs and presents an unreasonable safety risk to the public”; and

WHEREAS, Penn Station serves as a major transportation hub for the MTA, New York City Transit, Amtrak, the LIRR, and NJ Transit and serves hundreds of millions of passengers on an annual basis, with well over 600,000 passengers traveling through Penn Station on a daily basis which is is more people than travel through LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International, and Newark Liberty International airports combined; and

WHEREAS. Penn Station is in need of modernization to meet public safety needs as it is currently overcrowded, hard to navigate, at times often chaotic and has a limited capacity for security and proper policing; and

WHEREAS. Penn Station is in desperate need of more access and egress to allow better entrance and exit capacity and expedited evacuation procedures, and needs more controlled points for security monitoring and equipment with passenger flow and security access allowing for manageability in emergency situations; and

WHEREAS, The current situation poses a clear public safety hazard; and

WHEREAS, The number of commuters entering Penn Station is expected to increase dramatically and it was further found and declared that such conditions and circumstances require action to repair or redevelop such facilities into safe, modern, efficient facilities to assure the safety and comfort of travelers; and

WHEREAS, This is a pressing public safety and transportation issue, and is a major objective for the State to resolve and should be made a top priority; and

WHEREAS, “MTA and the New York state Urban Development Corporation (‘UDC’) should coordinate and consult with community leaders, business groups and federal and city government to design a solution”; and

WHEREAS, According to SHPO’s statement, they undertook another review of Penn Station in 2019 at the request of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and concluded that they were unable to make a determination; and

WHEREAS, In December 2020, the New York City LPC, in their role as a certified local government, evaluated historic resources within the Empire Station Complex environmental review study area and determined MSG and the Penn Station Plaza ineligible for local, State, and Federal designation; and

WHEREAS, Between 2018 and 2021, SHPO’s evaluation led to the determination of eligibility status for Penn Station in 2021 although nothing material has changed in the three years separating these decisions; and

WHEREAS, MSG, 2 Penn Plaza, and the rebuilt Penn Station do not possess the integrity nor convey the significance necessary, nor does it offer an expression of the aesthetic or historic sense of a particular period of time to merit historic designation; and

WHEREAS, In 1965, hundreds of advocates for preservation and adaptive reuse of Penn Station took to the streets, united, and organized as The Action Group for Better Architecture in New York City and successfully helped pass the New York City Landmarks Law and created the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), widely regarded as the birth of the modern preservation movement in the United States; and

WHEREAS, In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the National Historic Preservation Act, creating a national-level historic preservation program in partnership with the states; and

WHEREAS, The Act created the National Register of Historic Places, the system of State Historic Preservation Offices, and the review known as Section 106; and

WHEREAS, Purporting to honor the rise of the historical preservation movement and establishment of the City’s landmarks law — the very law resulting from the demolition of the original 1910 Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station — by designating Pennsylvania Plaza as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places is a cruel and strikingly ironic juxtaposition; and

WHEREAS, Madison Square Garden, this being its fourth location, was destroyed of its relationship between the property and its surroundings, nor does it possess any historical significance and while its roof may have some engineering merit, other works by the structural engineer are better examples; and

WHEREAS, 2 Penn Plaza, a 400-foot tall aging commercial building described as “a nondescript, monolithic slab” is not a good reflection of the mid-century architectural style of the era; and

WHEREAS, Prime examples of iconic mid-century  architecture celebrated within Community Board Five include the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Lever House (designated as the City’s first modernist landmark in 1982 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission), and the Seagram Building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; and

WHEREAS, Other notable architectural  examples in Midtown Manhattan include the United Nations Secretariat Building and Ford Foundation headquarters, the latter of which Hannskarl Bandel (engineer of the MSG roof system) helped to build; and

WHEREAS, With poor connections to its surroundings and inefficient circulation, 2 Penn Plaza is being substantially overhauled and re-skinned for a more modern look; and

WHEREAS, Penn Station, in its current configuration, is dismal and dangerous, with only its surviving vestiges historic in nature; and

WHEREAS, Hundreds of people registered for the public hearing on the Pennsylvania Station Area Civic and Land Use Improvement Project on December 8, 2021, voicing their concerns related to its negative impacts affecting the scale and character of the community, and of the potential loss of affordable housing and small businesses through eminent domain; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania Plaza, ultimately, does not retain the identity for which it is significant; and

WHEREAS, Transit advocates are appalled by the designation and determination of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places  (Elstein, A., “Historic blunder?! State moves to protect Penn Station and MSG, jeopardizing redevelopment,” Crain’s New York Business, December 8, 2021); and

WHEREAS, Local preservation, historical, or archeological organizations – often the ones first contacted when federal projects commence – were apparently not contacted during the evaluation of Pennsylvania Plaza; and

WHEREAS, Representatives from the City Club of New York, the Empire State Coalition, and Historic Districts Council voiced their concerns to the Landmarks Committee; and

WHEREAS, While acknowledging the technically correct, academically focused determination by SHPO professionals with significant experience and expertise as well as precedential considerations; and

WHEREAS, The nexus has been on the significance of the site rather than the buildings that are present at this time; and

WHEREAS, The focus of preservation advocacy has been on preventing mass demolition of historic resources around the Pennsylvania Plaza ‘superblock’ that would be razed by the proposed area plan; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five strongly supports Penn Station reconstruction and believes that Penn Station cannot be made safe and fully ADA accessible unless MSG is relocated — a move we have advocated for since 2012, and even before; and

WHEREAS, The SHPO determination invokes laws that require that they are consulted throughout project planning, prolonging the process for the opportunity to make recommendations; and

WHEREAS, Registered properties and properties determined eligible for the Registers receive a measure of protection from the effects of federal and/or state agency sponsored, licensed or assisted projects through a notice, review, and consultation process; and

WHEREAS, There are no restrictions placed on private owners of registered properties, who may sell, alter or dispose of their property as they wish; and

WHEREAS, Listing on the National Register could make property owners eligible for federal and state tax credits, the value of which could be monetized in exchange for working capital and further harming the City and State; and

WHEREAS, Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Act of 1966 is triggered by funding or approval from a DOT agency for a project that proposes ‘use’ of historic property; and

WHEREAS, Section 4(f) stipulates that in order for a historic site to be granted protection, it must be considered significant, and that the Section 106 process is the method by which a historic site’s significance is determined; and

WHEREAS, Sections 106 and 4(f) are similar in that they both require consideration of historic preservation in projects with federal involvement; and

WHEREAS, The Section 106 process is integral to the Section 4(f) process, Section 4(f) is not integral to the Section 106 process; and

WHEREAS, Section 4(f) applies to the actual use or occupancy of a historic site while Section 106 involves an assessment of adverse effects of an action on historic properties; and

WHEREAS, Section 4(f) applies only to programs and projects undertaken by agencies of the DOT, while Section 106 applies to actions of any federal agency; and 

WHEREAS, The Section 4(f) process applies a more stringent analysis with respect to totally avoiding historic properties than does the Section 106 process; and 

WHEREAS, Under Section 4(f), agencies of the DOT must avoid the use of historic sites; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five disagrees strongly with the SHPO’s determination of eligibility for Pennsylvania Plaza; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five wishes to emphasize the preservation of significant resources in the surrounding area; and

WHEREAS, The following sites, buildings, and structures surrounding Pennsylvania Plaza are located within the GPP boundaries:

WHEREAS, SHPO, as a state agency, serves the people of New York; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five requests the SHPO reconsider its determination of eligibility for Pennsylvania Plaza (Madison Square Garden [MSG], 2 Penn Plaza, and Pennsylvania Station [Penn Station]) for its flawed methodology, impact in stripping away the potency of our landmarks law, the endangerment to passengers transiting Penn Station, and be it further

RESOLVED, That SHPO reverse the determination of eligibility for Pennsylvania Plaza and instead, focus efforts on preservation of at-risk buildings in the surrounding area listed above; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five calls upon LPC to take urgent action to evaluate and designate buildings within the boundaries of the GPP deemed NYCL-eligible, to afford them protection and historic preservation.


After some discussion, the above Joint Committee resolution passed with a vote of 37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Achelis, Athanail, Bahor, Beitchman, Brosnahan, Chou, Diggins, Dowson, Ford, Frewer, Garcia, Goshow, Haas, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Heyer, Isaacs, Johnson, Kaback, Kahng, Kinsella, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Lione, Livesay, Lucic, Maffia, McCall, Miller, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Stern, Sung, Whalen, Yang. ABSTAIN: Barbero.



LAND USE, HOUSING AND ZONING – layla law-gisiko

Ms. Law-Gisiko gave a presentation on the following resolution.


570 5th Avenue draft scope of work


WHEREAS, 46/47 Owner LLC (the “Applicant”), an affiliate of Extell Development Company, proposes a development at 570 5th Avenue located on the west side of Fifth Avenue between West 46th and 47th Streets; and

WHEREAS, The proposed development site consists of 11 vacant tax lots and 2 tax lots that contain vacant buildings in the process of being demolished. The site has a lot area of 43,011 square feet, with approximately 150 feet of frontage on Fifth Avenue, 228 feet of frontage on West 46th Street, and 150 feet of frontage on West 47th Street; and

WHEREAS, The eastern portion of the site is located in a C5-3 (15 FAR) district within the Fifth Avenue Subdistrict of the Special Midtown and the western portion of the site is located in a C6-4.5 (12 FAR) district within the Special Midtown District. The zoning lot extends beyond the Proposed Development Site, and occupies most of the remainder of Block 1262; and

WHEREAS, The proposed development is for an office building with a maximum floor area of approximately 1,176,012 zsf, including approximately 1,162,559 zsf of office space (inclusive of an event space with approximately 20,000 sf), and approximately 13,453 zsf of retail space, with additional retail space located below grade; and 

WHEREAS, The building would have its primary office entrance on Fifth Avenue, with retail entrances on each of Fifth Avenue, West 46th Street and West 47th Streets and the applicant anticipates this office configuration would have a height of approximately 860 feet; and

WHEREAS, An alternative development scenario would allow for a mixed-use building with hotel, residential and retail use in the event that market conditions are not favorable for office use with  a maximum floor area of approximately 1,176,012 zsf, including approximately 800,866 zsf of hotel space, approximately 324,841 zsf of residential space, and approximately 50,305 zsf of retail space, with additional retail space located below grade and a total height of approximately 1,100 feet; and

WHEREAS, To permit the development of this building the applicant seeks a series of land use actions outlined below, including discretionary actions that are subject to City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) and require the creation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  The proposed actions would include a maximum building envelope of up to 1,100 feet that would accommodate both scenarios; and

WHEREAS, As part of this proposed development, the applicant would deliver a set of improvements to the Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street Station (E/M lines) that would result in the station becoming ADA accessible. These improvements would require excavation to a depth of approximately 85 feet below grade in order to provide a new street entrance on East 53rd Street east of Fifth Avenue; a new mezzanine area under East 53rd Street with fare control to accommodate a new street entrance and new access core; a new stair from mezzanine to upper platform and a new stair from upper platform to lower platform; an ADA elevator from street to upper and lower platform passageways; two escalators from mezzanine to upper platform; and a new access core between platforms and street level to accommodate escalators, elevators, and stairs. These improvements are included on the MTA’s Priority Improvement List under the East Midtown Rezoning and the MTA testified in favor of this applicant’s proposal; and

WHEREAS, The excavation for the elevator core would be undertaken and paid for as part of an easement from the Rolex building located at 665 Fifth Avenue to the MTA and would not count toward Extell’s investment towards the subway improvements; and

WHEREAS, Under the Zoning For Accessibility zoning text, the maximum bonus for improvements is capped at 20%, and as it applied to this site, at 440,000 zfa, and the applicant seeks 120,000 additional zfa beyond that for a total of 560,000 additional zfa; and

WHEREAS, To accomplish the Proposed Project, the Applicant is requesting a series of land use actions from the City Planning Commission including:

  1. Zoning text amendments, including amendments to Section 81-066.6, to permit exceeding the maximum 20% density bonus
  2. Special permit pursuant to Section 66-512 to permit:

(a) a floor area bonus for mass transit station improvements to the Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street Station


  1. Special permit pursuant to amended ZR Section 81-066 to permit modifications, including:

  (a) the transfer of floor area across district boundaries,

(b) modifications to other bulk and use regulations, including but not limited to, the daylight evaluation/daylight compensation regulations (ZR 81-26 & 81-27),

(c) modifications to the maximum street wall height (ZR 81-43, 81-83, & 81-262[b]),

(d) modifications to the regulations governing major building entrances and maximum lobby widths on Fifth Avenue (ZR 81-42, 81-47[b][2] & 81-84[a]),

(e) modifications to the minimum retail space requirements applicable within the Fifth Avenue Subdistrict (ZR 81-82[b])

(f) modifications to pedestrian circulation space requirements (ZR 81-45 & 37-50),

(g) modifications to building entrance recess area requirements (ZR 37-53(b)),

(h) modifications to the location of floors that can be occupied by commercial uses (ZR 32-422),

(i) modifications to curb cut regulations (ZR 13-242, 81-44),

(j) modifications to parking regulations (ZR 81-84(b)) and screening requirements (ZR 13-221),

(k) modifications to the maximum signage area, height and illumination regulations within the Fifth Avenue Subdistrict (ZR 32-642 & 81-141)


  1. Special permit pursuant to ZR 74-802 to allow transient hotel use; and, therefore be it


RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial for the proposed zoning authorization unless certain conditions are met:

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must include the following evaluation of the proposed development’s impact on:

  1.     Use and overuse of existing community facilities including fire stations, emergency response systems and schools;
  2.     All light sensitive resources;
  3.     Transit and transportation including increased Bike Share traffic, vehicular traffic and congestion;

of multi-modal transportation systems and subway ridership increases;

  1.     Station paving improvements to accommodate visually impaired individuals especially at the track level where tactile surfaces need to be installed to indicate where car doors are located for safe train entry;
  2.     Elevator redundancy by installing two elevators so that one is in service at any time while the other one may be out of service due to repairs;
  3.     An affordable housing component for the residential use in the proposed option for a mixed-use development so lacking in CB5; 
  4.     Estimate the throughput of number of people that will be serviced by the proposed elevators and the increase in the number of people who can actually go through this subway station’;
  5.     A full daylight evaluation and proposed mitigations if the building does not have a passing score; 
  6.     The financial value of the subway improvements undertaken by the applicant, compared to the financial value for the additional density the developer is receiving;
  7. The maintenance budget package paid by the developer for the proposed transit improvements, including the length of maintenance commitment, number of replacements for elevators and escalators.

After some discussion, the above Joint Committee resolution passed with a vote of 34 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Achelis, Athanail, Bahor, Beitchman, Brosnahan, Chou, Diggins, Dowson, Ford, Frewer, Garcia, Goshow, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Heyer, Isaacs, Johnson, Kaback, Kahng, Kinsella, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Lione, Livesay, Lucic, McCall, Miller, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Sung, Whalen, Yang. ABSTAIN: Barbero.

There being no further business, the regularly scheduled meeting of Community Board Five adjourned at 7:58 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by, 

Craig Slutzkin


Julie Chou

Assistant Secretary

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