LG to lower U.S. headquarter's height after environmental fight

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 23, 2015 3:07 PM

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) - A long-running battle between LG Electronics Inc and environmentalists ended on Tuesday when LG agreed to halve the height of its planned North American headquarters so it will not obstruct views of the New Jersey Palisades cliffs.

The South Korean conglomerate said it would redesign the building in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, so that it will not rise above the treeline of Palisades Park, a national and historic landmark north of the George Washington Bridge, the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement.

“This agreement is a testament to LG and all parties’ commitment to find a solution that both protects this iconic landmark and benefits the local economy," said Mark Izeman, a regional director of the NRDC, which was among five wildlife conservation groups that opposed LG's old construction plans.

The Palisades, a series of forested cliffs stretching 13 miles (21 km) across the Hudson River from upper Manhattan and the Bronx, was designated a national landmark in 1965.

Local municipalities in the area have historically barred the construction of buildings over 35 feet (10.67 m) tall in order to preserve views. In 2011, the town of Englewood Cliffs granted a permit to LG to build its headquarters, reaching 143 feet in height, in exchange for jobs generation and the creation of a science exhibition for children.

Laurance Rockefeller, an environmental lawyer whose family donated a large swath of land that became part of the Palisades park, was among the most outspoken of those opposing the development.

After lengthy negotiations, LG agreed to build a five-story north wing of the headquarters that will rise to just under 70 feet and a three-story south wing.

In exchange, the conservation groups agreed to withdraw a pending lawsuit over zoning approvals in Englewood Cliffs.

President and Chief Executive Officer of LG Electronics USA, William Cho, said in a statement that he welcomed the agreement.

"Both sides showed a willingness to compromise, recognizing that there is a greater good to be acknowledged for the people, economy and environment of New Jersey,” Cho said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Marguerita Choy)