Plan to Re­zone Mid­town Man­hat­tan is Ap­proved by City Coun­cil

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Mark Sny­der

On Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 9, a re­zon­ing plan was unan­i­mously ap­proved by the City Coun­cil for a sec­tion of Mid­town Man­hat­tan. The new zon­ing rules will im­prove pub­lic spa­ces and sub­way sta­tions while per­mit­ting the neigh­bor­hood to fill with densely packed high-rise of­fice build­ings.

The New York Times re­ports, “The change will also al­low sev­eral build­ings with land­mark sta­tus, in­clud­ing St. Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral, to trans­fer their un­used de­vel­op­ment rights to build­ing sites any­where in the af­fected 78-block area. The re­zoned blocks, known as East Mid­town, run from East 39th Street to East 57th Street, from Third to Madi­son Av­enues. The re­zon­ing, which has been in the works for five years, is in­tended to re­vi­tal­ize what was once the core of cor­po­rate ac­tiv­ity in New York City. The area is home to more than 250,000 jobs and gen­er­ates about 10 per­cent of the city’s prop­erty tax rev­enue. But the build­ings are relics of the ‘Mad Men’ era, with an av­er­age age of 75 years, ac­cord­ing to city of­fi­cials.”

New state-of-the-art build­ings lo­cated on the Far West Side in the Hud­son Yards project and in Lower Man­hat­tan at the new World Trade Cen­ter com­plex have been the choice lo­ca­tions for big em­ploy­ers to move their com­pa­nies to, aban­don­ing their prior Mid­town homes. Since the Mayor Bloomberg era, city of­fi­cials have been search­ing for ways to make Mid­town East more appealing.

The re­zon­ing pro­posal pre­sented by Bloomberg was stopped by Coun­cil mem­bers and com­mu­nity lead­ers who op­posed the plan, say­ing it gave too much lee­way to de­vel­op­ers with­out enough guar­an­teed pub­lic ben­e­fits. The re­cent re­vised plan is sup­ported by Mayor Bill de Bla­sio, who said it links the con­struc­tion of big build­ings in the area to “real-time im­prove­ments in its pub­lic tran­sit and pub­lic realm.”

The main spon­sor of the bill that passed Wed­nes­day was Demo­crat Coun­cil­man Daniel R. Gar­o­d­nick, who rep­re­sents the East Mid­town area. He said that more de­vel­op­ment will be per­mit­ted by sub­way sta­tions, which he de­scribed as “cer­tainly the right place to put lots of new den­sity.”

“The goal is to im­prove East Mid­town not to sim­ply keep it as it is.”

Ac­cord­ing to the NYT, “The change could re­sult in more ul­tra-tall tow­ers like One Van­der­bilt, which is go­ing up near Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal and will be nearly as tall as the Em­pire State Build­ing. When all of the ad­di­tional de­vel­op­ment rights have been used in a decade or two, the Chrysler Build­ing could cease to stand out on the Mid­town sky­line. Be­fore all of the new tow­ers can sprout, de­vel­op­ers must strike deals with the own­ers of land­mark build­ings like St. Pa­trick’s. The cathe­dral has not made full use of de­vel­op­ment rights for the block it oc­cu­pies on Fifth Av­enue op­po­site Rock­e­feller Cen­ter, and can now sell the rest, to­tal­ing about 1.1 mil­lion square feet.”

The mar­ket will de­ter­mine the price of the air rights, but the plan calls for a min­i­mum city tax of $61.49 per square foot on any sale of such air rights.

The funds brought in by this tax, of­fi­cials said, will go to­wards the $50 mil­lion that the city promised to spend on im­prov­ing the streets and pub­lic plazas in East Mid­town.

Gar­o­d­nick said, “The goal is to im­prove East Mid­town not to sim­ply keep it as it is.”

Demo­crat Coun­cil­man Daniel R. Gar­o­d­nick, who rep­re­sents the East Mid­town area, was the main spon­sor of the re­zon­ing bill that was ap­proved last Wed­nes­day.

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