Eleven properties in Manhattan’s east midtown area were named New York City landmarks – including SL Green Realty’s Graybar and Pershing Square buildings – protecting them from being torn down.
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission acted to preserve the 11 buildings before a planned rezoning of a 78-block area in the vicinity of Grand Central Terminal and northward. The zoning proposal, which is working its way through city government, would allow aging properties to be replaced with newer buildings in east midtown, home to more than 70 million square feet (6.5 million square meters) of offices.
“The designation of these buildings doesn’t necessarily mean that these buildings cannot change,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, commission chairwoman, said at a meeting Tuesday. “But the commission will assure that whatever changes are approved will be sensitive to their historic character. The designation also assures that these buildings will be protected and not be demolished.”
In addition to the Graybar Building, at 420 Lexington Ave., and the Pershing Square property, at 125 Park Ave., the properties receiving landmark designation were:
–The Yale Club of New York City, at 50 Vanderbilt Ave.
–Minnie E. Young residence, 19 E. 54th St.
–Martin Erdmann residence, 57 E. 55th St.
–Hampton Shops building, 18-20 E. 50th St.
–18 E. 41st St.
–400 Madison Ave.
–The Shelton Hotel, 523-527 Lexington Ave.
–The Beverly Hotel, 125 E. 50th St.
–Hotel Lexington, 511 Lexington Ave.
The Real Estate Board of New York, a trade organization for the city’s real estate industry, opposed all 11 designations. In testimony in July, the organization said the area’s “truly meritorious buildings” already have landmark status, “and the ones proposed had little to no architectural or historic merit.”
SL Green, in a statement Monday, said making 125 Park Ave. a landmark could impede improvements to subway access in the area and “preclude millions of New Yorkers from enjoying a better commute.”
The building was constructed with connections to transit, which are “part of its history,” said Alexander Herrera, director of technical services for the New York Landmarks Conservancy, an organization of preservation advocates. “If we’re going to demolish every building to improve the subway platform, I don’t think we’d be setting a very good precedent.”
Melanie Keenan, an SL Green spokeswoman, said the company had no comment on the Graybar Building, which houses the real estate investment trust’s headquarters.
The east midtown rezoning plan is part of a city effort to modernize the business district to keep up with competition from other financial capitals around the world, including London and Hong Kong.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · David M. Levitt