Midtown East rezoning flop spurs exodus to downtown

Midtown East
Midtown East

Two months after Mayor Bloomberg’s Midtown East rezoning proposal fizzled, the debate over a revamp of the commercial zone rages on.

The latest salvo: An article by the New York’s Post Steve Cuozzo. In it, Cuozzo writes that, since the proposal’s flop, big-name companies in the area have stepped up the pace of their exit. Among the most recent are law firm Reed Smith, purportedly in talks for a deal at Hines’ Seven Bryant Park, and Citigroup, which ditched its longtime 399 Park Avenue headquarters for 388 and 390 Greenwich Street in Lower Manhattan in a December deal.

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“The fabled Grand Central area threatens to deteriorate into a commercial backwater if zoning isn’t changed to allow construction of new buildings suitable for today’s sophisticated companies,” writes Cuozzo, who quips that Midtown East’s office buildings as “‘Mad Men’-era dinosaurs.”

Jones Day, another law firm, is leaving its 41st Street home for 4 Brookfield Place, while Time Warner, Coach and L’Oreal have inked deals at the Related Companies’ Hudson Yards. Sony is also splitting for new offices near Madison Square Park, and Conde Nast and GroupM are to set up shop in Silverstein’s 1 and 3 World Trade Center, respectively.

According to Cuozzo, the fleeing firms are looking for features and amenities that don’t exist in an aging East Midtown, where buildings are 73 years old on average.