Caution over Midtown East
Alex Garvin criticizes the City’s proposed rezoning of Midtown East for threatening the neighborhood’s existing balance and being a cash sale of zoning rights.
In the next few weeks, the City Council will vote on a radical rezoning of Midtown East, a 78-block area covering most of the business district north of 39th Street and east of Fifth Avenue. Among other things, it would overbuild the area, canyonize streets and sidewalks by reducing building setbacks, put development pressure on the Turtle Bay residential area by upzoning adjacent Third Avenue, and threaten the existing pattern of small-scale retailing.
The Department of City Planning recognizes that Midtown East is one of the world’s premier business districts and enjoys a healthy rental market. It also recognizes that it has unique character—from outstanding architecture to much open space.
But City Planning worries that the area “may not—in the long run—offer the kinds of spaces and amenities desired by tenants.” The agency offers nothing to substantiate this apparently visceral and even uncertain fear. We are aware of no empirical studies to support it.
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Zoning For Sale: Midtown East is Recipe for Trouble, Crain’s New York