Friday, February 15, 2013

Unanimous Approval for Pyramid on West 57th Street

One of the most unusual apartment towers slated to rise in the city won unanimous approval of the City Council last week. Council members voted to give a green light for construction of the pyramid on West 57th Street. Durst Fetner Residential won approval after settling a dispute to build 173 units of affordable housing within the 32-story, 750-apartment building. By law, the affordable housing units will be income-restricted for 35 years. 

The project, stretching the entire block between 11th Avenue and the Hudson River, will include 750 rental units in the ski-slope-shaped, 32-story tower designed by Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, as well as 100 additional housing units in a former industrial building next door.

City Councilwoman Gail Brewer, who represents the area, said the community board had been frustrated that the units were only affordable for 35 years, but to sell them on the project, Durst Fetner agreed to contribute $1 million into an affordable housing fund.

"We are thrilled with today's vote and are grateful to the City Council and especially Councilmember Brewer," said a Durst spokesman. "Today's approval will pave the way for one of the most exciting and innovative designs to hit New York's skyline in a generation."

Durst Fetner also addressed some minor concerns about the facade on West 58th Street, which everyone from the community board to City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden have complained about as being blank for nearly an entire city block.

The reason is that is where many of the apartment pyramid's mechanical systems will be located because the building is within the FEMA flood plain for a hundred year storm, and thus they cannot be placed in the basement. At the City Planning Commission, the developer agreed to add space for artwork to the facade. Now, at the urging of Councilwoman Brewer, there will be more greenery, as well.

The final piece of the negotiations was a promise by Durst Fetner to consult with the community board on the new community facilities that will be a part of the project. Developers typically get development bonuses for including such uses in their projects, but they can range from dentists offices to adult education centers. The board has expressed an interest in some kind of childcare facility, such as a daycare center, a desire the Durst Fetner has said it will try to accommodate

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