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Art Students League Vote On Extell's Cash-For-Air Rights Is On

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A contentious meeting at the Art Students League last night ended in a vote to not postpone another, more official vote set for tonight. The disagreement centers around Extell's $31.8 million offer in exchange for air rights that would allow the very, very busy developer to hang a third of its planned 74-story, 1,423-foot tower over the landmarked arts school. A majority of the school's 1,750 voting members have to approve of the sale. The exact price of the air rights is a bit hazy, given that Extell is sticking to the $31.8M figure while the various factions sending out materials to convince members for and against the deal cite $25.8 million. Either way, despite the fact that Landmarks has already greenlit the tower and Extell will build a taller, un-cantilevered version if the vote is negative, it's worth noting that the school will get a lot if members approve tonight, and nothing if they don't.

At last night's forum, League members voted 209 to 59 in favor of going through with tonight's vote. An anti-cantilever sub-group called ASL Unite arranged the meeting in an effort to grant the community more time to mull over safety concerns associated with the project. The League's board plastered the interior of the building with posters arguing in favor of the deal—likely much like the epic rah-rah mailings sent to members. Members opposed to the project say the section of the tower that will protrude over the school poses a threat to the more than 300 people who use the facility at a time. Others counter the school could use the money to upgrade the building and secure its future.

The superscraper, also dubbed the Nordstrom Tower, named after the department store set to anchor it, is designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture. Once the design is finalized, it is set to be about 300 feet taller than the Empire State Building and taller than One World Trade Center (minus spire). The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the design in October.
—Shannon Ayala
· Art Students League, Divided Over Extell, Set To Vote On $25.8M [Curbed]
· Extell Gives Art Students League a Deadline: Approve Cantilever by Wednesday or Lose $31.8 M. Deal [Observer]
· All 217 West 57th Street coverage [Curbed]

217 W 57th St

217 West 57th Street, Manhattan, NY 10019