Silverstein Adds "Maids' Quarters" to 42nd Street Towers

Larry Silverstein wants to add a 12-story, 83-unit, low-income rental building on West 42nd Street that will let him add an extra 10 stories or so on his planned River Place II next-door.

The low-income building, for households earning 80 percent of the area median income, gives Mr. Silverstein a 20 percent zoning bonus, enabling two 57-story towers at 600 West 42nd Street. The affordable-housing building comes in addition to 235 low-income units proposed for the high-rise towers, which will make Mr. Silverstein eligible for cheap state financing and another zoning bonus that he can then sell to other developers nearby.

Community Board 4, however, has asked the city to block the zoning bonus in large part because the entrance to the low-income building is on the 41st Street side, which is fairly bereft of anything interesting other than a bus garage.

“As planned, it will look and feel like the maids’ quarters for the rest of the project,” the letter, sent last week, said.

The two high-rises, arranged on the north and south sides of the block, will be entered from a plaza in between the two of them, which, in turn, will be reached via sidewalks or driveways accessible from both 41st and 42nd streets. There will also be some retail on the 41st Street side, according to a source familiar with the development.

Silverstein spokesman Dara McQuillan defended the plan, saying in a statement, “We have designed a residential community that will add 318 exquisite apartments for moderate- and low-income residents and families of the community, and we have no doubt that each of the units will be highly sought after.”

- Matthew Schuerman