The Real Deal New York

Community board opposes Midtown East rezoning plan

Board wants more public space and are concerned denser buildings will block natural sunlight
March 10, 2017 10:05AM

Midtown East

Community Board 6 voted against the city’s proposed rezoning of Midtown East, expressing concern about the lack of public space and potential blockages to natural light.

The board on Thursday night turned down the proposal, which would allow for denser commercial buildings across a 78-block stretch of Midtown unless changes to the plan are made, district manager Jesús Pérez told the Commercial Observer.

The proposal covers the area west of Madison Avenue and east of Third Avenue between East 39th and 57th streets. The rezoning would add 6.5 million square feet of commercial space over 20 years by allowing developers to pay for transit improvements or buy from a pool of 3.6 million square feet of air rights from landmarked buildings in the district.

“We’re aware that we need to strike a balance here and try to get it right,” Council member Dan Garodnick told the publication.“It’s not a surprise to learn there are outstanding issues at the beginning of this ULURP process. That’s what the process is there for.”

In prepared remarks, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer echoed the desire for more open space.

“As I said at our public hearing on East Midtown last week, I’ve never seen a plan that couldn’t be improved through thorough public review,” she said.

The city kicked off a review of the rezoning in January. The Real Estate Board of New York supported most of the plan, but was concerned that the price tag for building would scare away developers.

“Site acquisition costs on the avenues with the highest FAR, such as Park Avenue, exceed $1,000 per square foot,” REBNY senior vice president Michael Slattery said at a hearing earlier this month. REBNY estimates development costs to be around $2,340 per square foot in the district.  [CO] — E.B. Solomont