This week Mayor Bill de Blasio, developer SL Green, and other suited officials gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking of One Vanderbilt Avenue, soon to be one of New York's tallest towers. The building, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), will rise 1,401 feet skyward when it's complete in 2020. Notably, developer SL Green, the largest commercial property owner in the city, is investing millions in transit infrastructure upgrades in and around the site, which is across the street from Grand Central Terminal. Litigation that hampered development was settled in August, allowing the project to move forward. On the public side, improvements include a transit hall at the tower's base, a 14,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza on Vanderbilt Avenue, and more points of access to and from Grand Central for straphangers, Metro-North riders, and the Long Island Railroad's planned East Side Access. Grand Central, Mayor de Blasio noted at the ceremony, is the system's second-busiest, with 154,000 people passing through daily. The tower's enhanced public offerings are no accident, but an exchange for super size. The developer and city officials want One Vanderbilt to be a model of the type of development that could happen under the proposed rezoning of Midtown East. "By committing to $220 million in public investment, One Vanderbilt will benefit not only its tenants but the city as a whole," said Carl Weisbrod, chair of the City Planning Commission, in a statement. "As we move forward with a proposal to revitalize Greater East Midtown, we believe that One Vanderbilt will signal this neighborhood's full potential. For East Midtown, the best is yet to come." Weisbrod's remarks allude to the city's plans to add more competitive Class A office space to Midtown East to make the neighborhood more attractive to tenants who flock to modern office space downtown and in New Jersey. In October, Weisbrod told DNAinfo that the rezoning will most likely be approved within 12 months. The public portions of the 58-story building will come online before the project is totally complete. As for design, the tower's taper nods to New York's classic skyscrapers, while its sharp articulations express contemporary supertall ambitions. The $3 billion "trophy tower" will contain 1.7 million square feet of Class A office space, ceilings up to 20 feet tall, and de rigueur column-free floor plates. On its subastral levels, the structure leans back from the street, allowing previously obstructed views of Grand Central's cornice on its Vanderbilt Avenue side. More images of the project are available on the building's new website.
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SL Green has announced that the litigation around Kohn Pedersen Fox's (KPF) One Vanderbilt was settled, paving the way for construction to continue. The suit, brought by Andrew Penson of Midtown TDR Ventures, the owner of Grand Central Terminal, against SL Green and the City of New York involved a dispute over the station's air rights. Midtown TDR Ventures challenged the Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning amendment and the One Vanderbilt special permit that allowed the supertall to move forward. Recently, though, one of Midtown TDR Ventures investors, Lehman Broothers Holdings, sold a $65 million stake in the property, which may have prompted the settlement. The settlement "[eliminates] uncertainty surrounding the building," according to a press release from the SL Green's PR agency. The 1,401-foot-tall tower, bounded by Vanderbilt and Madison avenues between East 42nd and East 43rd streets, is slated to add 1.7 million square feet of Class A commercial space to the neighborhood. KPF refers to the building as "a 21st century successor to Rockefeller Center" that dialogues with the city's iconic office towers and Grand Central, its neighbor. To no one's surprise, Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green, praised the settlement in a press release: “This is a major milestone for the future of East Midtown, clearing the way for One Vanderbilt to deliver state-of-the-art Class A office space and a $220 million investment in Grand Central’s transit infrastructure. We’re pleased that the new ownership of Midtown TDR Ventures shares our commitment to development in East Midtown and worked with us to quickly reach this agreement. With demolition nearly complete and work already underway on public improvements, One Vanderbilt is well on the way to becoming a reality.” As plans call for the tower to be connected to Grand Central, SL Green has agreed to invest $220 million in public infrastructure improvements in and around the station.
Even though the Midtown East rezoning is still under consideration, SL Green Realty is counting on it becoming a reality. According to Curbed, the developer has tapped architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to design an office tower at 1 Vanderbilt Street located a block from Grand Central Terminal. SL Green needs the rezoning to be approved to move forward with the construction of their 1.55-million-square-foot building. The proposed rezoning would allow for taller buildings to be built if developers make a contribution to a fund called a “District Improvement Bonus,” which would be used for area-wide pedestrian network improvements.