Developers Will No Longer Seek to Reduce Required Bike Parking in Midtown Tower

A rendering of the outside public space of the new proposed Project Commodore tower. Photo: RXR Realty
A rendering of the outside public space of the new proposed Project Commodore tower. Photo: RXR Realty

Now they’ve got the ride idea.

A development team that raised eyebrows because it wanted to reduce the number of required bike parking spots in its proposed massive Midtown skyscraper has come to its senses, revealing earlier this month that it will now provide the number of spaces mandated by law to keep up with the growing bike boom.

Developers RXR Realty and TF Cornerstone want to build an 83-story mixed-use tower above Grand Central Terminal at E. 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue — dubbed Project Commodore — that would include a 500-room hotel, and retail and office space. But the firm wanted to shrink the number of required bike parking spots reserved for commercial tenants of the tower from 286 to 103.

Six months later, however, the builders now say they realize the critical importance of providing adequate bike parking, especially at a commercial building that would sit on top of one of the busiest transit hubs in the city, and promise to include no less than the required number.

“Our original decision to reduce the number of bike parking spaces was based on the building’s interconnectedness with several modes of public transit and a survey of utilization in our other buildings. However, in considering the potential for long-term changes in commuting patterns, particularly given COVID-19, as well as community feedback, we will no longer be seeking City Planning approval to reduce the number of bike parking spaces,” said a spokesperson for the joint venture told Streetsblog.

Last December, reps for the developer came under fire after telling the local community board that they were seeking city planners’ approval for special permits and changes to city zoning laws, including the request to shrink the number of required bike parking spots. A city zoning law enacted in 2009 requires developers to provide a certain number of enclosed bike parking spaces in new buildings based on a project’s square footage — and under that formula, RXR Realty would be mandated to provide about 286 spaces.

Advocates urged the developers to reconsider, both because secure bike parking in Midtown is already scarce, and because the city’s bike boom has showed no signs of slowing down. The de Blasio administration has promised to install 10,000 bike parking spaces by the end of 2022, but progress is slow.

“I am concerned about the reduction of the number of bike spots,” Upper West Sider and longtime advocate Andrew Rosenthal said at the time. “If you build it [bike parking], they will come. Biking is exploding in New York City. This plan doesn’t seem to encompass any of that logic; it doesn’t think about climate change.”

As part of the project, the developers also say they will provide additional open-air public space, a widened sidewalk on Lexington Avenue, a revamped Lexington Passage and new transit hall, and other mass transit improvements such as new elevators and turnstiles to mitigate congestion inside the popular station. The tower will not include any car parking spaces.

A rep for the developers said the exact number of bike parking spaces has yet to be determined, but will follow the city’s zoning formula based on the final size of the building; and they are open to providing even more bike storage spaces, the rep said.

The city’s formal land-use review process kicked off last month, and developers expect the project will be complete by 2030.