Statement on Planned LG Electronics Headquarters Next to Palisades Interstate Park
The Palisades are a unique and dramatic defining feature of the region’s natural landscape. Located at the heart of the nation's largest urban region, the Palisades provide an aesthetic and physical relief from the development that surrounds them. Their value has been honored through the creation of the Palisades Interstate Park and designation as a National Natural Landmark, thanks to the tireless efforts of groups and individuals on both sides of the Hudson River, including the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs and Regional Plan Association, among others. It is with great respect for these efforts and for this shared regional resource that RPA strongly urges LG Electronics and Englewood Cliffs to reconsider their approach to the company’s proposed new headquarters.
In its 1929 regional plan, RPA listed the protection of land on top of the Palisades as “one of the most urgent and important needs in the Region.” The development along the Palisades south of the George Washington Bridge that took place in the following decades spurred RPA to dedicate a chapter of its second regional plan in the 1960s to design guidelines for buildings built on or around the Palisades, as well as a call for municipal cooperation to further protect lands. And in 1988, RPA - along with the Trust for Public Land - issued a study encouraging state-level oversight to ensure conservation-based zoning and codes. RPA’s history with and concern for the Palisades is as old as the organization itself. In order to ensure the continued protection of this resource, RPA recommends the following:
- Set the right precedent locally. For more than a century, Englewood Cliffs has worked closely with businesses and developers to grow in a way that respects the natural beauty of this setting. Unlike the municipalities south of the George Washington Bridge, no tall towers have come to dominate the tree-lined cliffs and adjoining neighborhoods of the plateau. By granting a variance to build higher than the zoned 35 feet, Englewood Cliffs has made a precedent-setting move that is likely to usher in a wave of new demands for loosening height restrictions in this section of the Palisades. While it is true that this project has many benefits – including job creation, increased local tax revenue and a stronger corporate-municipal relationship – the same benefits can be achieved in a way that does not change the character of the community and the region.
- Reduce the height of the proposed tower to below the tree line. There are many admirable attributes to the proposed development of the headquarters complex, including green design features. But as it is currently designed, the tower of LG’s headquarters is slated to rise 143 feet – twice the height of the existing tree line. LG should work closely with the borough of Englewood Cliffs to reduce the height and the number of stories of the tower to ensure that it doesn’t rise above the tree line. A world-class headquarters with the capacity for the same number of employees can be designed with a lower-rise design on the 27-acre tract.
The alternatives being championed by a diverse coalition of New Jersey and New York individuals and organizations all seek to find a balanced approach that still enables healthy economic development in a way that respects more than a century’s worth of efforts to preserve this special place. The result of these efforts is in part what makes the borough such a draw to residents and companies alike. We hope that LG Electronics and the borough of Englewood Cliffs consider these recommendations within this context and help to ensure that their names will be included in the next chapter celebrating those who worked together to protect this unique and critical place.