Seagram Switch

Last night, Community Board 5 narrowly passed a resolution supporting the transfer of air rights from the iconic Seagram Building, at 375 Park Avenue, to a new development at 610 Lexington Avenue (the transparent building in the photo of the developer’s model).

RFR Realty LLC is the owner of both the Seagram Building and the property to be developed, currently home to to a YWCA that will be demolished to make way for the new 257,000-square-foot, 62-story building, which will be 709 feet high.

The board’s resolution was the first of several steps that RFR Realty must go through before construction of the new building begins. RFR is utilizing section 74-79 of the city’s zoning resolution, a provision that sets forth rules for transferring air rights from a landmarked building to another property. In return for selling the air rights, the owner of the landmarked building must agree to maintain it for perpetuity (and if the building changes hands, that provision is written into the deed transfer).

Since RFR owns both properties, representatives readily agreed.

The new building will feature commercial retail space, 14 stories of hotel space and 44 stories of residential condominiums. A representative of architectural firm Foster and Partners, which is designing the building, told the community board that the building was designed to fit in seamlessly with the surrounding buildings with its bold mullions and toned-down spandrels to emphasize its vertical sweep.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission must still rule on the application; after that, its next stop will be the community board’s land-use committee. It will then go before the Department of City Planning.

-Matthew Grace Seagram Switch