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City of New York proposes rezoning of East Midtown Manhattan

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From NYC.gov: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/east_midtown/index.shtml





View the July 2012 Presentation

View the January 2013 Update Presentation

DCP is proposing a zoning strategy for 78 blocks of the East Midtown office
area centered around Grand Central Terminal and generally located between Fifth
and Second/Third avenues, and East 57th and East 39th streets with Park Avenue
as its central spine.


East Midtown is a major job center (250,000 jobs), and regional
transportation hub (Metro North, East Side Access, Subway lines) for the City.
With the construction of Grand Central Terminal nearly a century ago, the area
developed into the core of the Midtown office district - a position it maintains
today even as new growth has occurred further west in Midtown. The area contains
some of the City’s most recognizable office buildings and other landmark


Despite its relative strength today, the area faces challenges that could
undermine its competitiveness and its value to the City over time. The average
age of office buildings in East Midtown is more than 70 years old, older than
the office buildings in premier business districts in global competitor cities.
These older buildings in East Midtown have lower floor-to-ceiling heights and
numerous interior columns, which are increasingly undesirable to premier Class A
tenants who want open space plans. Little new replacement office space has been
developed in the area recently, with only two new office buildings constructed
in in the past decade. Additionally, DCP has noted a number of pedestrian realm
challenges including narrow sidewalks and bottle necks in subway stations.

The rezoning strategy seeks to address these issues and presents the
following goals:

  • Protect and strengthen East Midtown as one of the world’s premier business
    addresses and key job center for the City and region.
  • Seed the area with new modern and sustainable office buildings to maintain
    its preeminence as a Class A office district.
  • Improve the area’s pedestrian and built environments to make East Midtown a
    better place to work and visit.
  • Complement ongoing office development in Hudson Yards and Lower Manhattan to
    facilitate the long-term expansion of the City’s overall stock of office space.



Presentation (.pdf format): http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/east_midtown/presentation_012913.pdf


From Second Ave Sagas concerning the impact on the IRT (Hat tip thanks to Ben Kabek):  http://secondavenuesagas.com/                            



Tying Midtown East rezoning into transit improvements            By            Benjamin Kabak              · Comments            (17)      



For six months toward the end of 2011 and into 2012, my offices were located a short walk away from Grand Central, and every day, I took the subway through this den of people. The Grand Central subway station on the Lexington Avenue IRT is not particularly well designed. It’s crammed with subway riders, and due to the numerous staircases, there’s not a lot of platform space. Between the crowds slowly trudging up the stairs and people waiting for trains, it can often seem unsafely overcrowded.


It may get even worse. With Mayor Bloomberg attempting to fast-track a plan to rezone Midtown East, the area around Grand Central could see a rapid expansion in the amount of available office space. Already, sidewalks are too narrow and pedestrian areas very limited. But nothing is quite as bad as that Grand Central subway space, and if the city is to rezone the neighborhood, it must be careful attention to the needs of the area’s subway riders.


In a January Community Board 5 meeting, the city presented its latest plans for Midtown East, and as the DNA Info write-up noted, these plans include a call for transit investment. Matthew Katz reports:


City planners unveiled a revised East Midtown rezoning plan Tuesday that excludes a small segment of streets from the proposal and requires developers to chip in to a fund for transit improvements — before they can get a building permit…


Developers also would have to pay into the District Improvement Fund before getting building permits — instead of when they received the permits, city officials said. Critics said that’s still no guarantee the cash needed to improve the area would be raised, or that enough developers will even decide to bite. “We don’t know when development is going to occur and we need these improvements now,” [CB 5 Board member Raju] Mann said.


The improvements eyed include new escalators, stairs, passageways and space on platforms at some of Midtown’s most congested subway stations. The upgrades, estimated to cost between $340 million and $465 million, would focus on the train lines at Grand Central, the Fifth Avenue/53rd Street Station and Lexington Avenue/53rd Street Station.



Edited by realizm

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