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REBNY Watch Views

Hats off to team work setting gold standard for new Midtown East

By REBNY President John Banks

SL Green Realty Corp, the city’s largest commercial landlord, recently broke ground on One Vanderbilt, a $3 billion office tower poised to be the second tallest in New York City.

Once completed, the 58-story, 1,401 ft. One Vanderbilt will be a breath of fresh air among Midtown East’s predominantly aging office buildings.

In an agreement that is a major win for New York City, SL Green will provide significant improvements both at the project site and on Vanderbilt Avenue.

Commuter access to Grand Central Terminal and East Side Access, which is still under construction, will also be enhanced.

The cost for these amenities — over $220 million — was the basis for SL Green being allowed to build a larger building.

These public realm improvements were the result of a zoning proposal supported by Council member Dan Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. The new rules make local improvements a pre-requisite to building taller buildings, and were created to encourage the modernization of Midtown East. The legislation pertains to the five blocks along Vanderbilt Avenue.

This agreement not only benefits the City and SL Green — it will also improve the lives of thousands of commuters and visitors to Midtown East.

Specifically, they will now experience coming and going through multiple new exit and entrance areas to Grand Central Terminal, which will ease crowding.

The transit improvements will allow for the addition of one train per hour on the Lexington Avenue line, as passengers will leave the station faster permitting more trains to pass through the station.

More trains will mean shorter waits and faster travel times for straphangers.

The local improvements also include refurbishing Grand Central’s mezzanine, enhancing circulation spaces, and a direct connection from the transportation network to the new tower.

A 14,000 s/f street-level plaza is the last of the announced upgrades, all of which SL Green is required to complete before One Vanderbilt can be fully occupied.

Upon completion, One Vanderbilt will be a sight to behold. The 1.7 million gross square foot, Class A mixed use office building will perfectly complement Grand Central Terminal and become home to retailers such as TD Bank, which has already agreed to be the building’s anchor tenant.

SL Green is also considering the developmentʼs environmental impact. It has been working with the Community Board and Borough President’s Office to improve urban design elements and aiming for highest possible LEED certification.

This project will not only bring improved public amenities and greater access to transit, it will create 5,200 construction jobs and 190 union building service jobs. It is also projected to generate approximately $50 million in annual tax revenues.

One Vanderbilt is a prime example of how rezonings can achieve multiple goals — improvements to the public realm, new Class A office space and a beginning to the revitalization of Midtown East.

If One Vanderbilt is to be looked at as a “test run” for the revitalization of Midtown East, then it looks poised to pass with flying colors.

As SL Green’s Marc Holliday mentioned, projects which will have a powerful effect on the City can face difficulty and intimidating challenges in their early stages.

I commend him, SL Green, the Administration, and community leaders for their hard work in embarking on this project and getting it off the ground.

This project will set new standards in sustainability and design, serve the needs of Midtown East’s aging office supply, and ensure that New York City remains the center of world commerce, culture, media, and finance.

In other REBNY News:

November 10 from 11:45 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. is REBNY’s next Members’ Luncheon, lat the Hilton New York. The event’s panel discussion, moderated by Seth Pinsky of RXR, is called “New Opportunities & Challenges in Today’s Market,” and will feature panelists Charles Bendit of Taconic Investment Partners, Leslie Himmel of Himmel + Meringoff Properties, and Kevin Hoo of Cove Property Group. To register, visit www.rebny.com or contact Ossie Shemtov at OShemtov@rebny.com.

November 15 is our next Secrets of Top Brokers and Industry Leaders seminar, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the Mendik Education Center. This free seminar for REBNY members only will have a panel of experts examine and present current trends in real estate. Registration is required, and more information can be found on rebny.com or by contacting Yesenia Dhanraj at YDhanraj@rebny.com.

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