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Art Students League, Divided Over Extell, Set To Vote On $25.8M

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After it won Landmarks approval, you may have thought the deal was done for the cantilevered superscraper that Extell wants to erect at 217 West 57th Street. But that's not the case. The Art Students League, the landmarked building over which the Nordstrom tower (so named for the city's first branch of that department store set for its base) would cantilever, still has to vote on the sale of 6,000 square feet of air rights. The League's Board of Control (like a board of directors) has already approved it, and now the League's 1,750 voting members need to cast their ballots by Wednesday. A majority has to approve of the project in order for Extell to pay the League $25.8 million for the rights.

The vote has already been postponed once and is currently scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the ASL, and a special members' meeting to rehash the proposal is scheduled for tomorrow. Members have, in the meantime, been bombarded with mailings. Those in favor of the sale say the money will add floors to the building for an expansion including "adding studios, modernizing our sculpture facilities, upgrading the cafeteria and library facilities, unveiling skylights that have been covered over for too many years and restoring gallery space." The other main argument to vote in favor of the transaction is that Extell will build a tower with or without the air rights—without them it will build one that doesn't cantilever that is about 100 feet taller. But there are at least two grassroots groups—Don't Step On Us and ASL Unite—who are against selling the air rights despite the fact that the tower will rise anyway.

Below are four separate communications—two by mail and two by e-mail—that ASL members have received prior to the vote. One long document is unequivocally in favor of the proposal, two are against, and one professes to be neutral. Please click on the photos to see them in a larger size and read the text. Carry on.

Here's the 16-minute audio testimony from Don't Step On Us:

· ASL Unite [official]
· Don't Step On Us [official]
· Mapping the Many Extell Projects on the Rise in Manhattan [Curbed]
· All 217 West 57th Street coverage [Curbed]

217 W 57th St

217 West 57th Street, Manhattan, NY 10019