Midtown East rezoning will likely be passed in 2017: Garodnick

Council member hopeful de Blasio will make proposal this year

From left: Midtown East and Dan Garodnick
From left: Midtown East and Dan Garodnick

Council member Dan Garodnick expects the Midtown East rezoning to pass before the next mayoral election in 2017. The remark, made at Wednesday’s B’nai B’rith real estate luncheon at the Cornell Club, offers further hope that an issue whose many twists, turns and delays have galvanized the real estate industry could finally be resolved.In October, a steering committee including Garodnick and Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer proposed a sweeping rezoning plan for Midtown East between 39th Street and 57th Street. The de Blasio administration is currently reviewing the proposal, and is set to present its own plan in turn.

“I think you’re going to see a proposal from the mayor this year” Garodnick said. “They will propose it, then it goes through ULURP, and then we pass it. My expectation is that we will pass the East Midtown rezoning in 2017.”

Garodnick is a key figure in the long-standing quest to rezone and promote new construction in Midtown East – a district shaped by stately but ageing office buildings and cramped subway cars. In 2012, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a sweeping rezoning plan. The plan failed a year later in large part due to the opposition of Garodnick, who lamented a lack of provisions for transit improvements.

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In 2015, City Council passed a more modest rezoning plan for a five-block stretch along Vanderbilt Avenue, which it billed as the first phase of a Midtown East rezoning, and paved the way for the development of SL Green’s office tower One Vanderbilt. Phase two is set to cover the entire neighborhood, stretching from Third Avenue to Madison Avenue.

Under the Garodnick and Brewer proposal, owners of landmarked buildings could sell up to 4 million square feet in unused air rights to developers across the district at market rates. The city would take a 20 to 40 percent cut of the sales proceeds to fund transit and public infrastructure improvements. The de Blasio administration has made the rezoning one of its priorities.