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270-Park-Avenue-03 via JP Morgan Chase (via Department of City Planning)
In February, JPMorgan Chase announced it will build a new 70-story skyscraper on the site of its current headquarters at 270 Park Avenue between East 47th and 48th streets. The plan is the first major project under the 2017 Midtown East Rezoning Plan, where 78 blocks of Midtown were upzoned to allow the development of larger, more modern skyscrapers. Earlier this month, the $400-billion bank submitted an Environmental Assesment Statement (EAS) to the Department of City Planning with the intent to modify zoning rules that regulate the location and size of publicly accessible space.
Under the "no-action" scenario, which means no special approvals, JPM would build a 2,419,377 gross-square-foot tower for 11,757 employees in accordance to existing East Midtown zoning rules. In this as-of-right scenario, a 10,000-square-foot open-air plaza would be provided alongside a 1,567-foot-tall tower. Diagrams shown within the EAS show a more classic, ESB-like massing in this case. The publicly-accessible space would be excluded from the total building square footage and would be located midblock on East 47th Street.
Under the "with action," which requires special approvals, the bank would reduce the publicly accessible space to 7,000 square feet and position it along Madison Avenue. The space would be enclosed within the tower and counted toward the building's gross square footage. The modification would allow the bank to construct larger floorplates. The bank states the modification would reduce the building total height to 1,400 feet tall, 167 feet less than the "no action" scenario. There would also be a net overall increase of 1,232 gsf of total building space.
270-Park-Avenue-0034
According to the zoning resolution, the Greater East Midtown rezoning requires that a new building on a qualifying site provide publicly accessible space, open or enclosed, depending on the lot area of the property. "Any qualifying site that has a through-lot portion and a lot area of 65,000 square feet or greater is to provide an open publicly accessible space of no less than 10,000 square feet across the through lot portion of such site."
The City Planning Commission determined that the modifications JPM is seeking would have no significant effect on the quality of the environment and ruled a negative declaration. The commission found the proposed action would be consistent with the area's land use patterns and would maintain and enhance the existing land use character within the study area through the provision of new Class A office space and a publicly accessible open space along Madison Avenue.
Despite the reduction in size, the commission welcomed a "new and different form of year-round public open space for the area." According to the body, "The proposed enclosed public open space would include a number of features that would make it attractive to the general user population and help enliven the Madison Avenue corridor. In addition, the enclosed public space would improve the commuter experience by providing a high-quality public amenity at an entrance to the Metro North tracks." The commission also notes that the enclosed space would enhance the public's view and enjoyment of the landmarked 400 Madison Avenue across the street and would serve as a well-lit, climate-controlled environment that would be available for public and private events and be better utilized year-round as opposed to the outdoor plaza.
Proposed Madison Avenue-facinf enclosed public space JP Morgan envisions
Proposed East 47th Street streetscape
If all goes according to plan, JP Morgan intends to begin demolition on its current headquarters in 2019 and finish construction in 2024. Upon completion, JPMorgan will consolidate employees from various NYC locations with headquarters staffers in the new tower.
The 70-floor, 1,400-foot height would make the new headquarters one of the tallest buildings in the city and the tallest office building by roof height. One Vanderbilt, being built four blocks south by SL Green Realty, will rise 57 floors 1,301 feet tall to its roof, 30 Hudson Yards is 1,268 feet tall, and the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall.

Much of JPM's planned tower's girth is derived from 700,000 square feet of unused development rights the bank plans to purchase from nearby properties. Reportedly, the bank agreed to buy 680,000 square feet of air rights from the owners of Grand Central Terminal and will pay the 100-year-old St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church $15,625,000 for 50,000 square feet of development rights. The 2017 rezoning plan requires the sellers of these rights to pay a share of the proceeds to the city, that would go toward funding infrastructure improvements in the area.
270-Park-Avenue The existing 270 Park Avenue, MikePScott???s Flickr
The demolition of the existing 1961 building, previously known as the Union Carbide Building, will be the tallest building in the world intentionally dismantled. The bank has stated the building does not meet the needs of a 21st-century banking institution as it was designed for approximately 3,000 employees and currently accommodates more than 6,000. Prior to demolition, employees will be relocated to nearby offices such as 390 Madison and 383 Madison, the former home of Bear Stearns that the bank inherited when it bought the firm in 2008.
In late October, Bloomberg reported that JPM had selected Foster + Partners as the architects of the new headquarters. Led by the British Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster, the firm made their first mark on the skyline with the Hearst Magazine Tower on Eighth Avenue. In addition to several new residential towers (100 East 53rd, 50 UN Plaza and 551W21), the firm has a tabled design for 2 World Trade Center and is behind a new office tower at 425 Park Avenue several blocks north.

In a statement, Foster said, “The building design is set to respond to its historic location as well as the heritage of JP Morgan, and we look forward to working with them to realise their vision for a new global headquarters for the company.” It is likely that the illustrations shown in the EAS are not final. The building is expected to be LEED-certified and will create 8,000 construction jobs in the city.
 
 
 
 
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Google Earth image with a 1,400-foot-tall placeholder at 270 Park Avenue
270-Park-Avenue-03 Google Earth rendering with a 1,200-foot placeholder at 270 Park Avenue

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