New Zoning Rules Could Change Face of Grand Central Area

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Rendering of Proposed Tower, One Vanderbilt, in east midtown. Credit: SL Green

The de Blasio Administration has announced a special permit process for development projects in East Midtown along Vanderbilt Avenue from 42nd to 47th Streets near Grand Central Terminal. Projects approved through this new medium could receive significant height and density boosts in exchange for substantial transit and infrastructure improvements.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we are approving large scale development without having the commensurate return for the public," said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development.

The first developer to take part in the special process is expected to be SL Green, with a 65-story tower at One Vanderbilt, as first reported by the New York Times.

SL Green plans to build a new 1.6 million-square-foot office building on the west side of Vanderbilt Ave between 42nd and 43rd Streets, along with vital pedestrian and subway improvements, that are expected to cost $100 million.

SL Green could not have built One Vanderbilt under existing regulations; the proposed new special permit would make the building possible.

Currently developers along Vanderbilt Avenue in east midtown are permitted to build up to a 15-floor area ratio (FAR), meaning the buildings could have 15 times the square footage of their zoning lot.

Under the new process, developers could be permitted to build up to 30 FAR, 30 times the square footage of their zoning lot. That could result in a buildings along Vanderbilt Avenue in east midtown that are taller than the Chrysler Building.

Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer and council member Dan Garodnick (Council District 4) will launch the new community planning effort that will oversee the special permit process.

"We're not afraid of big buildings in New York, we just want to make sure that they're built responsibly," said council member Garodnick.

The de Blasio administration also announced the creation of a task force to consider the broader issues surrounding the rezoning of the entire east midtown area.