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Chase will redesign, enlarge public space at new Midtown HQ

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The POPS will be 10,000 square feet as required by zoning rules

Max Touhey

When JP Morgan Chase’s new Midtown headquarters opens at 270 Park Avenue in a few years, it’ll come with a privately owned public space—one that will now comply with the open space requirements that are part of the Midtown East rezoning agreement. Crain’s reports that the banking giant will retool the design of its forthcoming skyscraper to ensure that the POPS will be 10,000 square feet.

Last year, the firm filed a zoning text amendment seeking to change the size of that POPS, which will be at the base of the building, from 10,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet. Chase had argued that the site’s unique configuration—it sits atop a train shed for Grand Central Terminal—and the fact that it will reuse the foundation of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed tower that is already there would make a larger open space impossible.

But Manhattan’s Community Board 5 and borough president Gale Brewer both objected to Chase’s original design; their opinions would likely inform those of the City Council, which would ultimately approve the text amendment.

“While I understand the significant constraints of the site, the Applicant has nonetheless shown a failure to contemplate other options, such as the ones noted in the Community Board 5 resolution,” Brewer wrote in her recommendation. “Such options would not have precluded a publicly accessible space that met, at a minimum, the size requirement.”

Chase now says that it has worked with its architecture team (Foster + Partners; Vishaan Chakrabarti of the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism is also consulting for the firm) to create a public space that will fit the zoning requirements, and—according to Crain’s—will make the space open-air rather than enclosed.

A spokesperson for Chase says the redesigned POPS will be a “significant public benefit” for Midtown. “Our team has worked diligently with our architects and other advisors to identify this solution and believe it works for all stakeholders involved as we continue our pursuit of a world class building that serves the needs of our company, the neighborhood and city,” they continued.

Chase filed demolition plans for the skyscraper—which preservationists and architecture buffs have argued should not be torn down—in January. Construction is due to begin later this year.