Transit upgrades could precede Midtown East rezoning

MTA says developers would not be allowed to open buildings until the system is ready

From left: Thomas Prendergast, Grand Central Terminal, Carl Weisbrod
From left: Thomas Prendergast, Grand Central Terminal, Carl Weisbrod

The MTA expects the rezoning of Midtown East to put stress on nearby subway lines, but in a departure from the past, the authority plans to deal with problems before they occur — and it expects developers to help underwrite solutions sooner rather than later.

The MTA is zeroing in on improvements to the Lexington Avenue line and the Times Square shuttle at Grand Central Terminal, as well as the E and F train station at 53rd Street. The main goal is to alleviate congestion that will only get worse as more buildings crop up, MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast told Crain’s.

The agency now believes it will need to reassess whether planned outlays of $465 million to increase train traffic and renovate Grand Central Terminal will meet the needs of the new rezoning proposal, reports Crain’s.

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That amount does not include developer contributions the city will mandate, such as the $200 million SL Green Realty pledged to spend to connect its proposed One Vanderbilt tower to Grand Central via an extended concourse. Carl Weisbrod, chairman of the City Planning Commission,  told Crain’s that developers would not be allowed to open new buildings until the transit upgrades have been made.

“So if inflation goes wild, if construction costs multiply, if problems are found, whatever, that’s not our risk, that’s not the public’s risk. That’s the developer’s risk,” said Weisbrod. [Crain’s]Tom DiChristopher