New York City Midtown East Rezoning Plan Amended To Allow Residential

22/07/2013 3:33 pm

New York city's planning department released this month an amended version of its large midtown east rezoning plan in an effort to address a number of issues.  Before we detail the changes, it should be pointed out that these things are simply "options that can be selected by the City Council to address concerns" later this year when it votes on the full plan.

A major change includes a proposal to allow residential units to take up to 20% of the space in the new generation of office skyscrapers. Developers could add even more residential units to a project, up to 40% of the new space that is built on a site, if they receive a special permit. The opportunity to build housing units will be of huge interest to developers to build major mixed-use towers on what have been predominantly commercial avenues.

That amendment would allow developers to put those apartments atop their new buildings along the area's major arteries including Park and Madison avenues. City Planning officials said the new residential allowance would come with its own class of air rights whose price will be set in the coming months.

Another big change to the city's rezoning plan, is an amendment that will allow area landmarks, including the St. Patrick's Cathedral, Central Synagogue and Saint Bartholomew's Church, to sell their trove of air rights across a broader geography. The the city revealed Thursday that expanded area will stretch from about East 48th Street to East 57th Street, between Madison and Third avenues.

One amendment that was anticipated but missing from the updated plan was a reduction in site land area eligibility . Many land owners had pushed for added leeway in the site sizes that will be eligible for upzoning to permit larger buildings under the plan. The city's original plan required development sites to have avenue frontage and be at least 25,000 square feet in size in order to qualify for buying air rights from the city that would allow for building higher. That requirement remains, despite some strong arguments from the real estate industry, which had voiced concerns that sites of that size could be difficult and expensive to assemble. Instead, the city has relaxed it avenue-frontage requirements, permitting buildings with 150 feet of frontage on an avenue or certain streets, to partake in the rezoning.

Daniel Garodnick, a member of the City Council whose district includes midtown east, still raised concerns about the plan's end goal of raising hundreds of millions of dollars for transit, infrastructure and streetscape improvements in and around Grand Central Terminal through the sale of the air rights.

"The announcement is not going to come with news that the city is going to kick in $100 million or some amount of money to fund the improvements we need to make," Mr. Garodnick said. Mr. Garodnick has questioned how quickly and effectively the plan can raise capital for the improvements as well as the overall strategy of linking those improvements to the sale of air rights rather than just funding them directly out of the city's or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's capital budgets. Mr. Garodnick is expected to be a key figure in deciding whether the plan will pass in time for the end of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure in office. The mayor has made it clear he wants the rezoning plan to be part of his legacy.

Source: Crains New York

Full details: New York City Planning