The Real Deal New York

Councilman stands in the way of Bloomberg’s Midtown East plans

March 14, 2013 12:30PM

A City Council member is throwing a wrench into Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to rezone Midtown East for more big office buildings, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Councilman Daniel Garodnick wants to see more housing in the neighborhood, to offset all the business development, and is asking the city to study his idea.

Garodnick, who has the power to hold up the rezoning, sent a letter Wednesday to Deputy Mayor Robert Steel yesterday laying out his position and calling on the city to consider changes to the proposal during the public review process.

The changes include easing restrictions on landmark buildings that want to sell air rights, requiring an additional permit for hotel construction and ensuring funding is provided for infrastructure upgrades before development takes place.

“Let us be extremely clear: we will reject any proposal that we feel does not adequately address the infrastructure and public realm needs of the area,” according to the letter, also signed by other local officials.

Right now, Bloomberg wants about a dozen large buildings to be built around Grand Central, increasing building size by as much as 60 percent in some instances. Those developers of bigger buildings would be required to fund infrastructure improvements, which over the next 20 years could add up to $750 million, according to city figures.

Besides Garodnick, community groups dislike the plan — especially the uncertain timeline for the funding of specific infrastructure upgrades to the subway system and public spaces. [WSJ] — Christopher Cameron