Midtown East rezoning tweaks would benefit SL Green, L&L

September 30, 2013 09:00AM

SL Green Realty and David Levison’s L&L Holding Co. may be able to get a jumpstart over rival developers on their plans to build taller buildings under the proposed Midtown East rezoning.

The City Planning Commission is set to vote today on the controversial rezoning plan, which would allow owners to replace their aging office buildings in the area with newer, taller towers. The plan, however, contains a protective “sunrise provision,” which doesn’t allow developers to take advantage of the rezoning for another four years so that the projects don’t compete with developments under construction at Hudson Yards and the World Trade Center. Now, late changes to the wording of the proposal would favor two Midtown East developers, letting them build higher earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported.

SL Green executives told City Planning officials that an early start to its planned office tower between 42nd and 43rd streets would allow the company to make significant improvements to pedestrian access to Grand Central Terminal. And L&L’s Levinson claims their proposed tower, at 425 Park Avenue, “is a bespoke office building for modest-sized tenants” and hence wouldn’t compete with megaprojects like Hudson Yards.

City planners thought the two developers had a point, according to the Journal. The commission allowed changes to the wording of the proposal to make exception for certain projects, though the landlords spared by the new phrasing are not explicitly named in the revised bill. SL Green’s project would get a one-year jumpstart, while the L&L building could break ground in 2015.

“These potential modifications to the sunrise provision would continue to protect ongoing development in Hudson Yards and Lower Manhattan,” Michael Shilstone, a spokesman for the planning department, told the newspaper.

Some, such as State Sen. Liz Krueger, were concerned about the changes.

“This is exactly why a rezoning without enough vetting and public review should not be approved,” a spokesperson for Krueger told the Journal. [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani