Lawsuit seeks to stop mega-tower from ruining the grandeur of Grand Central
grand central terminal
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An 82-year-old preservationist is single-handedly waging war against a 1,645-foot mega-tower that’s set to go up next to Grand Central — claiming the behemoth building would mar the “heart of New York.”
Christabel Gough, the secretary of the Society for the Architecture of the City, filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday seeking to stop the project at 175 Park Avenue, which the complaint says would “completely overwhelm and resign to utter insignificance the grandeur of Grand Central.”
“I came here with my grandfather when I was a small child,” Gough told The Post.
“This is the heart of New York and it should be protected. Why do we have a landmarks law if not to protect buildings like Grand Central?”
Developed by RXR Realty and TF Cornerstone, the proposed building would be more than five times the size of the 26-story Grand Hyatt hotel its replacing on East 42nd Street.
In her suit, Gough marvels over the transportation hub that she says she “regularly frequents” to enjoy its “beauty, historic and architectural eminence and cultural significance.”
She is accusing the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission of issuing an advisory opinion, instead of greenlighting the 83-story structure with a formal opinion, which is legally required and entails a higher bar for approval.
The LPC should have required the MTA, as the owner of Grand Central, to file an application for a “certificate of appropriateness” for the project — since it will alter the terminal and its viaduct, the court papers say.
But instead, the LPC allowed the MTA to merely file a request for a “report and recommendation” — a more relaxed and non-binding standard for project proposals, the filing alleges.
The LPC issued that report and recommendation in February.
“Why do we have a landmarks law if not to protect buildings like Grand Central?”
Christabel Gough, the secretary of the Society for the Architecture of the City
“The Landmarks Commission has a responsibility to take care of the landmarks — the viaduct and the interior of Grand Central — and I think they are shirking their responsibilities,” Gough said. “They are using technicalities to avoid looking at these proposals.”
The tower would open in 2030 with work not starting until 2025, the developers have estimated.
“The Landmarks Preservation Commission effectively greenlighted a plan to alter Grand Central Terminal, one of America’s most iconic landmarks, without complying with the exacting standards contained in the Landmarks Law,” Gough’s lawyer Michael Hiller told The Post in a statement.
“The commission recommended approval of a massive, hulking tower more than 13 times the size of Grand Central directly next door, resigning this legendary landmark to utter insignificance,” Hiller said.
Gough wants a judge to vacate the LPC’s February report and for the commission to conduct a review of a certificate of appropriateness for the project.
A spokesperson for both developers said the project had been reviewed and endorsed by the LPC and the State Historic Preservation Office. The rep said the suit takes issue with “a small piece of sidewalk and a modification to a passageway” inside the terminal.
“The lawsuit has no impact on the transformative project and, regardless, we are confident we will prevail,” the spokesman said.
“As we continue to move through the land use review process, we are committed to following all necessary administrative steps, and will continue to work with the City, LPC, MTA, and SHPO,” the statement said.
MTA spokesperson Meredith Daniels said “we do not comment on pending litigation.”
The city Law Department declined to comment.
LPC did not immediately return requests for comment.
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