NYC Council approves JPMorgan’s 70-story Midtown East tower

Posted On Thu, May 9, 2019 By

Posted On Thu, May 9, 2019 By In Midtown East, Policy

Via Flickr

The New York City Council on Wednesday approved the first supertall to be constructed under the Midtown East rezoning. JPMorgan Chase will build a new 70-story headquarters at the site of its current offices at 270 Park Avenue. The rezoning, adopted by the city in 2017, affects more than 70 blocks around Grand Central Terminal and encourages the construction of taller, more modern office towers in the neighborhood. Designed by Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners, the 1,400-foot building is set to become one of the tallest structures in the city and the tallest office building by roof height. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio and JPMorgan Chase revealed plans for the headquarters in a joint announcement last February. “Good jobs, modern buildings and concrete investments that will make East Midtown stronger for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who work here,” de Blasio said about the plan at the time.

The tower’s supertall status comes from 700,000 square feet of unused development rights purchased from nearby landmarked properties, as the rezoning allows. JP Morgan snagged 680,000 square feet of air rights from Grand Central and another 50,000 square feet from St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. Proceeds from the air rights will then be used to finance the city’s public space improvements in Midtown.

The rezoning requires new developments to provide 10,000 square feet of public space. In its original proposal, JPMorgan said just 7,000 square feet would be possible because two-thirds of the site sits above the Grand Central train shed. But after challenges earlier this year by Manhattan Community Board 5 and Borough President Gale Brewer, the bank and Foster + Partners revised its plan and increased the size of the tower’s public space.

Council Member Keith Powers, who led talks between the bank and the city, said he hopes the tower can be used by other developers as “an example to bring substantial public impact.”

“JP Morgan’s plans for 270 Park Avenue exceed the vision for the East Midtown Rezoning,” Power said in a statement Wednesday. “This development sets a precedent for what is possible in Midtown.”

But the plan to raze the bank’s current 52-story headquarters at the Union Carbide Building immediately faced backlash from architecture buffs and preservationists. The tower was designed in 1960 by Natalie de Blois for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and at 1.5 million square feet, is one of the late architect’s largest projects.

It will also become the largest intentionally demolished building in history. Never having received landmark status from the city, 270 Park is not protected from demolition. With the demolition process now underway, construction is expected to begin in January 2021.

The Midtown East rezoning has sparked a flurry of office tower development in the neighborhood. TF Cornerstone announced earlier this year plans to purchase and raze the Grand Hyatt building next to Grand Central to make way for an office tower. SL Green’s One Vanderbilt is currently under construction, with the 1,401-foot skyscraper expected to be completed in 2020.

And as 6sqft reported on Monday, Vornado Realty Trust and Rudin Management Company may partner to develop a massive 1,450-foot office tower at 350 Park Avenue, although no permits have been filed officially yet.

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Neighborhoods : Midtown East

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