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Community Planning

East Midtown Steering Committee Issues Proposed Rezoning Plan for Area Around Grand Central

Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Council Member Dan Garodnick led year-long community planning effort to define new building standards, community improvements

After a year-long community planning process, the East Midtown Steering Committee, co-chaired by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and City Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick, has issued recommendations for the rezoning of the area around Grand Central Terminal, known as East Midtown.

The steering committee — established by Mayor de Blasio and Carl Weisbrod, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission — convened a wide variety of stakeholders in regular meetings since September 2014, facilitated by a team of Pratt Institute urban planning faculty led by GWW Planning & Development. The committee included representatives of Community Boards Five and Six, business improvement districts, REBNY, organized labor, the Municipal Art Society, and landmark advocates.

The steering committee’s framework sets standards for new development, funding for needed transit improvements, enhancements for congested public spaces and asks the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to complete the work of designating significant buildings. This will allow new and upgraded office space while furthering the need to preserve historic buildings, improve mass transit and enhance the public realm — all critical to creating a vibrant, world-class commercial core. To enact these recommendations, changes to the city’s zoning resolution and zoning map will have to be approved through the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

An executive summary is available here: bit.ly/EastMidtownExecSummary
A full copy of the report is available for download here: bit.ly/EastMidtownReport

Developers would be permitted to earn additional square footage at designated sites only by meeting specific criteria identified in the report. For example, a developer could “earn” the right to construct additional density by first constructing transit improvements at specific subway stations. Or a developer could purchase unused air rights from eligible landmark owners in a new, expanded zoning district; as part of the transaction, the city would obtain revenue to fund public-realm improvements.

“The work of the East Midtown Steering Committee is the kind of community-based planning we need in New York City: involving everyone — from community board members to city planners, from developers to organized labor — who has a stake in how our city grows,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “These recommendations will help enhance the East Midtown area as a world class commercial district in the 21st century. They will ensure that development doesn’t happen haphazardly and that landmarks, open space, and transit upgrades are at the forefront of the development process, rather than an afterthought. I’m delighted to have worked with Dan Garodnick so closely on this proposal, and I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Chair Weisbrod for their foresight in establishing our group. The next step is working with them, and the Council, to put our zoning plans into practice.” Read more…

Categories: Community Planning, Zoning