The imminent redevelopment of the Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South has become one of the most talked about projects in real estate over the last few weeks, as reports emerged of a frivolous battle to preserve the original structure as a landmark. Now, YIMBY has obtained the first renderings of what the replacement may look like, though the images likely do not depict a final product.
Still, the idea conveyed is perfectly clear, and it appears that the original structure will receive a gut-renovation and vertical addition, avoiding a complete tear-down.
Unfortunately, onerous neighborhood zoning may prevent the complete demolition of the current building, which is a relative eyesore on the Central Park skyline. Per the Wall Street Journal, a completely new development would only be able to contain two-thirds of the tower’s current 370,000 square feet.
This invites creativity with the existing envelope, in a way similar to 425 Park Avenue, where the bottom portion of the original structure will also be integrated into the new building. The mandate for preservation is completely arbitrary and nonsensical, but so is most of the city’s zoning policy, so in the context of greater bureaucratic incoherency, it actually makes sense.
In the rendered plans, produced by Spivak Architects, the Park Lane emerges from its conversion as a plain and glassy box, with some additional height. Essentially, current FAR is reconfigured within a taller envelope to give higher ceilings, which are a must for new luxury developments.
The inflexibility of existing zoning translates into a rather banal design. While the tower would be dominated by the supertalls along 57th Street anyways, Central Park South is deserving of the best design possible; to the east, 220 Central Park South offers a glimpse at what can be built when ground-up construction is viable.
While indications are to the contrary, per Witkoff, the above images “have nothing to do with 36 CPS.”