With a vote of 49 to zero earlier today, the City Council unanimously approved the application for a 63-story office tower at One Vanderbilt, as well as the rezoning for a five-block stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets.
One Vanderbilt developer SL Green will be the first to take advantage of the Vanderbilt Corridor zoning changes, which will allow builders to purchase and transfer air rights from landmarked buildings nearby. At a press conference earlier this month, City Council member David Greenfield said that new projects could have a FAR as large as 30—the same amount of development rights as One Vanderbilt. Developers will still have to secure special permits and run through the city’s extensive ULURP process, which requires approvals from community boards, borough presidents and the City Council.
And in exchange for the right to build big, developers will have to fund public improvements in this heavily congested area of Midtown East, like public green space and transportation upgrades. SL Green has already committed $220 million to improve Grand Central’s subway station, by constructing new entrances and more space at track level to make it easier to get on and off the 4/5/6 trains.
The firm has promised to build a two new public transit halls totalling 6,500 square feet along 42nd Street and a public plaza next door. They also plan to excavate 100 feet below the surface of Grand Central to create better commuter links to the under-construction East Side Access project, which is slated to bring Long Island Railroad trains to Lexington Avenue by 2020.
And much to the city’s delight, One Vanderbilt will shell out $50 million in property taxes every year, on top of the transit improvements.
When it’s complete, the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed skyscraper will reach 1,501 feet in to the air and hold 1.6 million square feet of office space, anchored by a 200,000-square-foot TD Bank. The developer’s press release says they expect to start construction immediately, and hope to demolish the site’s current building as soon as possible.