Rudin moves ahead with office building at 415 Madison Avenue

Tweaked plan outlines 40-story tower with ground-floor retail, public concourse

415 Madison Avenue and Rudin Management’s Bill Rudin (SOM, Rudin Management)
415 Madison Avenue and Bill Rudin (SOM, Rudin Management)

UPDATED July 8, 2022, 10:56 a.m.: Despite the Manhattan office market’s cloudy future, the Rudin family is moving ahead with plans for a new Midtown office building — one that looks 55,000 square feet larger than it did two years ago, although the project hasn’t actually grown.

Rudin Management filed a permit application last week to build a 342,000-square-foot, 40-story tower at 415 Madison Avenue, as first reported by PincusCo. It would replace a 24-story office building that Rudin completed in 1955.

The 11,200-square-foot ground floor will consist of retail and an open-air public concourse. The remainder of the building will be office space, with floors ranging from more than 6,000 square feet to almost 11,000.

It would be the tallest new building in Midtown East since early 2020. Demolition is underway and construction is expected to take four years, New York Yimby reported Wednesday.

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Rudin’s application in 2020 called for a 252,000-square-foot office tower, although the firm says that number represented rentable square feet, not gross square feet, which it disclosed in its filing this year. The firm also filed separately for more than 35,000 square feet for a public concourse.

A spokesperson for Rudin said that the project’s square footage has remained steady throughout the approval process, even if some aspects of the development may have been tweaked.

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Rudin got permission to reconstruct almost 41,000 square feet of existing, non-compliant floor area and to transfer development rights from the landmarked St. Bartholomew’s Church at 325 Park Avenue. The church filed as a co-applicant.

St. Bart’s was a leading advocate for the expanded permission to sell air rights that was included in the Midtown East rezoning that passed in 2017. It and other religious institutions argued that they needed the money to repair their landmarked facades.

Rudin’s project would also add an entrance at the corner of East 48th Street and Madison Avenue to a below-grade concourse for the Long Island Railroad and passage to Metro-North trains. The site is a five-minute walk from Grand Central Terminal — a key factor as firms try to lure employees back to their desks.

The applications were approved by the City Planning Commission last October, and the local community board signed off with a nearly unanimous vote.

Rudin’s pursuit of a new Midtown office tower comes at an uncertain time for the Manhattan office market, although insiders expect the newest buildings to fare best.

Leasing volume in Manhattan dropped by 4 percent in the second quarter to 7.3 million square feet, according to a report released by Colliers. The vacancy rate in Manhattan for the quarter was 17.2 percent — not far off February’s record 17.4 percent. Office supply has surged by more than 72 percent since the start of the pandemic.

Rising interest rates are also threatening property values and publicly traded office REITs’ stocks have been hammered. Rudin is a private firm.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the history of the existing building at 415 Madison Avenue.