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Rezoning re-think paves way for midtown tower

By Konrad Putzier

The rejection of Michael Bloomberg’s Midtown East rezoning plan last November seemed to spell the end of SL Green’s planned 65-story tower 1 Vanderbilt. But seven months later, its future looks bright again.

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SL Green can press ahead with their plan for a tower at 1 Vanderbilt.

Last week, the City announced a proposal to rezone Vanderbilt Avenue between 42nd and 47th streets while a broader rezoning of Midtown East remains under review.

Although the proposal affects five blocks, it appears to be geared towards SL Green’s planned 1,200-foot tower at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street.

In effect, it would allow the REIT to begin construction without having to wait out a more lengthy rezoning process for the rest of Midtown East.

SL Green has reportedly been working behind the scenes to get its tower approved — an effort that now seems to be bearing fruit.

The company’s CEO Marc Holliday told The New York Times that SL Green would spend $100 million on transit infrastructure as part of the agreement. He did not specify what the investment would entail, although it will presumably have some connection to the adjacent Grand Central Terminal.

The REIT is reportedly in talks with TD Bank, currently based in New Jersey, to become the building’s anchor tenant.

Bloomberg’s failed rezoning plan would have allowed landlords in 73 blocks surrounding Grand Central to buy air rights from the city and replace the neighborhood’s aging office buildings with new, larger towers. It failed in large part due to the opposition of local councilman


Dan Garodnick, who lamented a lack of community input and inadequate knowledge of its impact on transportation.
In an encouraging sign for SL Green, Garodnick told Real Estate Weekly he supported the latest proposal to rezone Vanderbilt Avenue.
“This plan addresses the concerns I had with the previous proposal,” he said. “The bonuses to build higher are coming directly from infrastructure improvement, the city is not setting a price for air rights, and we are embarking on a yearlong process to study the broader rezoning.”
Garodnick added that he was involved in the drafting of the plan and has been in contact with SL Green. “They have made it clear that this is an important moment for them. They are the only major developer that appears ready to move forward with construction in Midtown East at this moment,” he said.

In a statement, SL Green welcomed the rezoning proposal.

“The Vanderbilt plan welcomes density where it belongs, adjacent to Grand Central Terminal, New York’s greatest transit hub,” the statement read.

“We are proud to invest in Midtown’s future and look forward to advancing our plans for One Vanderbilt, which includes significant improvements to Grand Central’s transit infrastructure and a new world-class office tower that is already attracting attention from major tenants desiring modern space in the heart of Midtown.”

While construction at 1 Vanderbilt could soon begin, a general rezoning of Midtown East as proposed by Bloomberg will likely be a more lengthy affair.

“It’s not the number one thing we’re working on right now,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told Crain’s.

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