Posted May 26, 2008, 3:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Long Island, New York
NEW YORK | Travelstead Tower | 1,080 FT / 329 M | 74 FLOORS | 1991 | NEVER BUILT
Originally proposed for 383 Madison Avenue, current site of the Bear Stearns Building
Plan to Use Grand Central Air Rights for Tower Is Rejected
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
Published: August 8, 1991
A state judge yesterday upheld the rejection by New York City planners of a proposal to transfer air rights underground from Grand Central Terminal to a development site four blocks away.
By virtue of its novelty and daring, the proposal has been closely watched since it was presented five years ago. Sylvia Deutsch, then chairwoman of the City Planning Commission, even raised the specter of air rights stretching to Yonkers when she and other commission members turned down the proposal two years ago.
Their action was upheld yesterday by Justice Eugene L. Nardelli of State Supreme Court against a challenge by the developer, G. Ware Travelstead.
The importance of the case goes beyond Mr. Travelstead's project. It affects the enormous pool of air rights over Grand Central that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has blocked from being used to build a tower directly atop that celebrated Beaux-Arts landmark.
The question remains as to what will happen to those air rights, which amount to something between 1.6 million and 1.9 million square feet -- nearly equal to two Chrysler Buildings.
Mr. Travelstead said yesterday he would press his appeal to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary. "We never expected to win until we got into the Federal court system," he said. "The fact that the judge just sat on the case forever and ever told me it was politics as unusual. All this does is start the appeals process."
But Richard L. Schaffer, the current chairman of the planning commission, said he was "very pleased" with the decision. Virginia Waters, an assistant corporation counsel, said, "The decision is a confirmation in every way of the city's action."
Mr. Travelstead wishes to build what would be one of the tallest and bulkiest office towers in Manhattan: a 1,040-foot skyscraper at 383 Madison Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets, with 1.4 million square feet of space. Not Adjacent to Terminal
To qualify for that size, he intends to use 800,000 square feet of Grand Central air rights, buying them from the Penn Central Corporation of Cincinnati, successor to the New York Central Railroad, which owns the terminal and air rights.
The problem is that 383 Madison Avenue is not adjacent to the terminal, as it must be to permit such a transfer under the city's zoning rules.
So Mr. Travelstead tried to establish adjacency by arguing that the rail yard under the terminal and 383 Madison Avenue constituted a chain of tax lots under common ownership and therefore satisfied zoning requirements.
But Justice Nardelli rejected the notion, writing: "Development rights are an inherent attribute of ownership of the surface of property. This concept is reflected throughout the language and plain meaning of various sections of the New York Zoning Resolution."
"Moreover, the very concept of transferable development rights relates to surface rights as to a zoning lot, and their availability and precise quantity is calculated on the basis of the dimensions of a zoning lot and other zoning factors totally unrelated to tax lots. Thus the underground tax lots are irrelevant to the matter of adjacency."
Justice Nardelli also found the city had "valid reasons" for denying the transfer because it would "unduly increase the bulk, density of population and intensity of use" in the area and have "unmitigable adverse environmental impacts" and because the program to maintain the landmark, which would be part of the arrangement, was "insufficient."
One of the best buildings never built in Manhattan in my opinion.
Last edited by StarScraperCity; Jun 6, 2008 at 12:58 AM.