The Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee is holding a hearing to vote on a proposal about 15 Penn Plaza, the controversial new development that the folks at the Empire State Building believe would change the city's skyline for the worse. And ESB owners Malkin Holdings aren't going down without a fight. The "Empire State Building Company" took out a full page ad in the New York Times today, urging the City Council to reject the plan. And according to a new survey, most New Yorkers may back them up.
A poll commissioned by the building's operators shows that 76% believe the proposed 15 Penn Plaza building, which would be around 1,200 feet tall, would mess up the character of the city skyline. 71% said it would detract from the Empire State Building's contribution to the skyline, and 39% said the 15 Penn Plaza proposal should include setbacks to limit its height. Anthony Malkin, President of Malkin Holdings, told the Daily News, "These results clearly show that New Yorkers feel strongly about protecting the integrity of the skyline...New Yorkers have now spoken, so we urge the Council to respect their wishes and block or amend the 15 Penn Plaza project."
Below, the full text of the New York Times ad:
Dear Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Comrie and Councilmember Weprin,
On behalf of all New Yorkers and everyone who knows and loves New York City, we urge you to reject or amend the present 15 Penn Plaza proposal.
We are the current stewards of the most beloved icon on New York's skyline, the Empire State Building. It is our responsibility to call attention to the Moment at hand and to ask you to weigh carefully whether 15 Penn Plaza should be allowed to proceed as proposed and forever change the New York City skyline.
The Empire State Building is THE iconic image of New York City's skyline. Recently, Speaker Quinn said in a New York Times OpEd that "gardens are as much a part of our city as the Empire State Building or Times Square." In a survey made public by the American Institute of Architects in February 2007, the Empire State Building topped the list of Beloved Buildings in the United States. For New Yorkers and the world, it is a symbol of our city...a beautiful image by day, a beacon by night.
When was the determination made to alter the signature of our city? The City Planning Commission itself has held that a certain standard must be met in exchange for great height. Less than one year ago a tower had 200 feet of height removed by the Commission because it did not belong "...in the zone of the Empire State Building's iconic spire." This building was one mile away. 15 Penn Plaza's sheer walls are less then 1,000 feet away; what about 15 Penn Plaza puts it "in the zone?"
We suggest that most New Yorkers have no idea that is is only bonuses of height and bulk and waivers from setback requirements that would allow 15 Penn Plaza to be nearly 50% larger than any as-of-right development. Those New Yorkers who know, specifically Community Board 5, voted 36-1 against it. We urge you to take note of the dramatic impact the proposed 15 Penn Plaza would have on our skyline. Will we trade our identity for this?
We respect Vornado and strongly support redevelopment around Penn Station. Transit Oriented Planning is the best planning. We will benefit from and not compete with new development in this area. There will be taller buildings in New York City than the Empire State Building, but they should merit the height with excellence, and they should not detract from the City's greatness.
We sincerely hope this Council, as elected representatives of the people of New York City, will recognize, maintain and secure the Empire State Building's iconic place, reconsider the bonuses and waivers granted under the current 15 Penn Plaza, and only approve the project on the condition that its height be reduced and setbacks be required.
We have done our job to bring to the public eye the danger and risk of inaction. We understand the ultimate decision and responsibility are yours.
The Empire State Building Company