The Midtown East Rezoning, Will It Or Won’t It Happen?

15/11/2013 8:46 pm

The Bloomberg administration's withdrawal of its plan leaves the door open for revisions by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

Faced with mounting opposition from the City Council, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office withdrew its plan on Tuesday afternoon to rezone a more than 50 block  of east midtown. The plan was designed to spur the construction of a new generation of bigger, state-of-the-art skyscrapers and in the process to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for transit improvements in the area.

Crain's report that hopes remain that the plan, which was not scheduled to actually take effect for five years, can be revived in some form under Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. The decision was nonetheless a strong rebuke of a proposal that the Bloomberg administration, led by Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, had worked for the past year to put in place as a lasting vision for the future of the city's biggest office district, one that would be a key part of his legacy of 3 terms in office.

Councilman Daniel Garodnick and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the council members whose districts encompass east midtown and in whose hands the plan's approval lay, had alerted the administration that they would not support it. Mr. Garodnick lauded the broad thrust of the rezoning but said that more work would be necessary to alter several aspects of it that had created controversy.

"Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio has made a commitment to putting a midtown east rezoning plan together in 2014, and I think any interested parties should understand that this is not the end of the line here," said Daniel Garodnick, who along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, are the council members whose districts encompass east midtown and in whose hands the plan's approval lies. "This is the beginning and it is an important proposal and essential to get it right."

For the time being, however, Mr. Garodnick and Ms. Quinn concluded that there were many details that required more time to work out than there was time to sort out in the remaining days of the administration.

"We remain concerned with the price, methodology and timing of the air rights to be sold by the City," Mr. Garodnick and Ms. Quinn said in a joint statement released by their offices. "We are also concerned with the certainty and funding level of the needed infrastructure improvements, which includes both above and below grade needs. The public realm plan is aspirational, and it is unclear at this point whether some of its most visionary improvements can even be executed."

Mr. de Blasio confirmed he would address the rezoning when he takes office in a statement issued late Wednesday.

"For the sake of New York City's long-term economic vitality, midtown east should be rezoned to allow the creation of a world-class 21st-century commercial district but it needs to be done right," Mr. de Blasio said. "We need to address the many unanswered questions about this plan, including how to build the infrastructure needed to accommodate the additional density created by the rezoning, and how to ensure that new development rights are appropriately priced to create the best possible value for the city."


read more at Crain's New York