Midtown rezoning plan faces opposition despite revisions

Midtown East (Inset: Edith Hsu-Chen)
Midtown East (Inset: Edith Hsu-Chen)

The New York City Planning Department’s revisions to the Midtown East rezoning proposal continue to rub residents the wrong way, the New York Times reported.

Some community groups, preservationists and landlords are concerned that the plan has been rushed and could drastically heighten the density of the neighborhood. The city’s plan would rezone a 70-block stretch to allow for taller buildings. The changes made Wednesday allow developers to earmark 20 percent of newly built skyscrapers for residential use, and take greater advantage of air rights from landmarked buildings, as previously reported.

Community Boards 1, 4, 5 and 6, which cover the district, remain opposed to it, as does the Municipal Art Society.

“If you start building on a faulty foundation, the building is not going to be stable,” said Lola Finkelstein, the chairwoman of a task force for those community boards. “These changes may satisfy some special interests, but unfortunately, they ignore the broader public interest.”

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Josh Gold of the Hotel Trades Council industry group said the city has not made sure that there would be well-paying jobs in new hotels under the plan. Also, the revised proposal would mean less revenue for transit improvements.

Joseph Zwilling of the Archdiocese of New York, meanwhile, is happy with the modifications because they would allow St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Church and Central Synagogue to sell and transfer unused development rights to a much wider range of sites than before, the Times said.

“We’re responding to the many concerns we’ve heard,” Edith Hsu-Chen, of the planning department, told the newspaper. “The purpose of this is to ensure the long-term position of East Midtown as a world-class office district.” [NYT]Mark Maurer