While a new pedestrian plaza near Grand Central Terminal has grabbed the headlines this week, it’s really just a small aspect of a widespread rezoning of Midtown East to which Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly pinning his legacy.
Bloomberg News reported that the Department of City Planning presented the mayor’s preliminary vision for the rezoning, which is aimed at encouraging modern office development in Midtown East, to Community Board 5 yesterday.
The plan would allow for building owners to acquire air rights to build as high as 900 feet in the area immediately surrounding Grand Central. Outside the “core” area, on the blocks bounded by Lexington and Madison avenues and East 39th and East 49th streets, towers of 700 feet would be permitted. According to the New York Observer the floor-area-ratio limits would increase to 24 for the core area, and 21.6 outside the core. Elsewhere in Midtown East the allowable FAR would rise to 18 from 15.
However, to acquire these rights, developers would be required to obain “a new special permit,” which would be limited to key sites where developers promise to fund improvements to pedestrian areas and transit hubs. They can also purchase air rights from nearby landmarks.