Community Board 5 revisited the case of the hotel coming to 250 Fifth Avenue last night because 1) the plans had undergone a few changes based on Landmarks Preservation Commission suggestions, and 2) the board had forgotten to give notice to the neighborhood the last time the plans were presented, effectively denying Flatiron-dwellers their day in
court a high school library. The changes turned out to be minimal—horizontal banding was added at every other floor because the LPC thought that the expression of the 23-story tower was too vertical, and the canopy was revised to give it more historical context. The issues brought up by community members were more interesting, however.
The first set of issues brought up by community members involved the fact that the hotel tower would be set back 15 feet from the street face. Three residents of 260 5th Avenue, a co-op building adjacent to the rear of the proposed hotel, were present and they brought a ringer: Doris Diether, once described by the Observer as the Grande Dame of New York City land use, who testified that in the entire Madison Square North Historic District there were zero buildings set back from the street wall. While Diether and the building residents maintained that they were invested in the architectural consistency of the neighborhood, the board seemed unconvinced that it wasn't just a ploy to gain additional backyard space. The developers, Quartz Associates LLC, were completely uninterested in revising their plans, which would require a City Planning Commission special permit, a 7-12 month delay, and additional cost.
Things appeared to be livening up when a representative of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, current tenants in 250 Fifth Avenue, took the floor and began grilling the developers directly about when the NYTWA would be kicked out and how much construction noise they would be forced to endure before that happened. (As it stands, the bank on the bottom two floors of the building would remain, but everything above that would be converted to hotel.) He was quickly silenced by the community board, however, which was only interested in hearing about landmarks issues. He concluded his remarks by stating, "New York needs another hotel like we need more bedbugs." The board was unswayed and voted 8-0 (with one abstention) in favor of the plans.
The old rendering: