The Art Students League is set to vote on the transfer of air rights to Extell’s Nordstrom Tower, set to rise at 217 West 57th Street. The League has a total of 6,000 square feet available, and 217 West 57th Street will cantilever 30 feet over the ASL’s roof — another aspect of Extell’s plan that could be axed by a ‘no’ vote. Curbed has an audio tape on the subject as well as a barrage of letters from both sides of the debate.
In the report supporting Extell’s plans, several League members endorse the cantilever, noting that the sale of air rights will provide much needed funding for the ASL. The League stands to gain $25.8 million if the transaction is approved; the vote is set for February 12th, so action is imminent.
ASL Members have also opposed the tower. The public push for approval is recent, and another group is attempting to bring in lawyers to stall the vote, decrying construction risks and potential shadows. 217 West 57th Street’s cantilever will begin at 290 feet above street level, protruding 30 feet over the ASL’s roof — but shadow studies have indicated its impact on light will be minimal.
While the debate is contentious, the option to cantilever was approved by the Landmarks Commission in October, so the only obstacle to Extell’s plans would be a ‘no’ vote by the ASL’s body. Schematics from the ASL’s pro-sale group depict what the Nordstrom Tower would look like if that were to happen, and the differences would be minimal; the building would gain slightly over 100 feet, while its profile would slim down.
Of course, the released ‘renderings’ come with a caveat; the designs and massing are preliminary, so the tower’s appearance could still see dramatic changes. The only thing Extell had to get approval for was the cantilever — everything else is still up in the air, since 217 West 57th Street is an as-of-right development.
Whether the Art Students League votes for or against the project, it’s still going to be built, and — with or without the cantilever — it will be enormous.
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