NEW YORK – Late yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued her formal recommendation on the Greater East Midtown rezoning proposal working its way through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), approving the plan with a number of conditions and recommended changes.
“For decades East Midtown has been the economic heart of our city and this plan will make it stronger than ever in the decades to come,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “The linchpin of this plan is the notion that public benefits like transit improvements, support for landmarks, and open space, should go hand-in-hand with new development. That’s smart planning, and I hope it will be a model for major rezoning plans to come.”
Brewer highlighted progress made on several key issues since the Manhattan Borough Board’s vote, including a number of public realm improvements such as:
- Formal designation of Pershing Square East as a pedestrian plaza, with investments in street furniture, signage, resurfacing, and planters
- A ‘Shared Street’ pilot program
- Traffic and pedestrian safety improvements on Park Avenue
- Streetscape enhancements for a five-block stretch of East 53rd Street, improving pedestrian circulation, seating, greenery, and more
The Greater East Midtown business district accounts for more than 10 percent of New York City’s property tax revenue, 60 million square feet of office space, and more than 250,000 jobs. It is home to one of Manhattan’s two commuter rail hubs, Grand Central Terminal, and two of New York City’s ten busiest subway stations.
The Greater East Midtown rezoning proposal would create a new East Midtown Subdistrict within the Special Midtown District, allowing floor area ratios in the subdistrict to increase from maximums between 12 and 15 (depending on location) to maximums between 18 and 27, depending on location. To take advantage of these new maximums, developers would need to complete transit infrastructure improvement projects identified in advance and purchase transferable development rights from landmarked properties within the district. Owners of existing overbuilt properties will also be permitted to rebuild their overbuilt floor area if they contribute to a public realm improvement fund. In this way, the plan provides predictability for developers seeking an as-of-right avenue to increased density, but also provides guaranteed up-front benefits for the public and support for the area’s landmarks.
The Greater East Midtown rezoning proposal began its public review process on January 3. The rezoning application will be considered next by the City Planning Commission, which must act within 60 days. From there, the plan will proceed to the City Council, which will have 50 days to review and act on the proposal.