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Neighbors: Silverstein's West Side Mystery Project Is Too Tall

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Neighbors want active developer Silverstein Properties to tone down the height of its Mercedes Benz dealership-replacing development, planned for the far West Side. This opinion on 520 West 41st Street—known in the past as 514 Eleventh Avenue—quietly gained traction last week at a Community Board 4 meeting of the Hell's Kitchen Land Use Committee, which resulted in a draft letter (warning: PDF, pages 5-6) to the Department of City Planning requesting that the project's pre-application height of 1,100 feet get chopped down. The letter also emphasizes that that the 20 percent affordable housing the project may contain "must be evenly distributed in location and type throughout the building and contain an equal level of apartment finish and equal and affordable access to all building amenities."

Silverstein's giant residential-retail project has been in the works for at least two years, but what's a bit confusing to the uninitiated is that, in the early stages, it was not only discussed using the Eleventh Avenue address but also as one tower with commercial space at the base. But then, in February, renderings surfaced that depicted the project as containing two towers, not one. The pre-application statement that CB4 reviewed last week and filed in October referred to one tower, but plans are far from finalized. The draft letter called it (singular) "out of context," as proposed plazas, driveways, and a two-story streetwall resulted in a smaller building footprint but a taller tower.

Despite the committee's reservations, a tall tower would not stick out like a sore thumb in the area. The development would neighbor Silverstein's 60-story Silver Towers on 42nd Street and 41-story building at One River Place on the other side of Eleventh Avenue. There's also Moinian's Atelier 2 rental project, now known as its address 605 West 42nd Street, along with more rentals at Extell's 52-story 574 Tenth Avenue. With the Hudson Yards and Manhattan West developments underway, Silverstein's Lincoln Tunnel entrance-area buildings add even more fuel to the West Side's high-rise fire.

The proposed letter to Planning received a nod from the full board without further discussion. (The board labored over the liquor license for a small lounge call "Rise.")

A committee member who did not wish to be quoted explained that the plans are only in the pre-application phase, so the requests lodged in the letter are general, in keeping with popular themes: keep the buildings low and promise affordable housing. No details on the affordability have been proposed yet, so everything is tentative.

Concerns about pollution and air quality also cropped up. The 200 planned parking spaces violate the Hudson Yards Parking Text Amendment, a result of a Clean Air Act lawsuit, the committee wrote. Limits on parking on the West Side went into effect in 2010.
—Shannon Ayala
· A First Look At Silverstein's Glassy Twin Towers For Midtown [Curbed]
· (Partially) Revealed: Silverstein's 514 Eleventh Avenue [YIMBY]
· Silverstein plans huge Far West Side residential-retail tower [TRD]

605 W 42nd St

605 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, NY 10036

520 West 41st Street

520 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036