E-BULLETIN OF THE HISTORIC DISTRICTS COUNCIL
November 2013, Volume 10, Number 6
Midtown East Rezoning Sent Back to the Drawing Board!
Last night, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council member Dan Garodnick announced that they would not support the current rezoning proposal for Midtown East; citing “among other issues, we remain concerned with the price, methodology and timing of the air rights to be sold by the City for the District Improvement Bonus. 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. We are committed to making the best decision for this community and all New Yorkers. We want to see development in the area that is both responsible and encourages growth that keeps us competitive with other cities. But, with so many outstanding issues, there is no good reason to rush the proposal through.”
“We can achieve all of the goals set out by the Bloomberg Administration and do so in a way that respects the interests and perspectives of all of the stakeholders – the community; the workers who will populate and serve the new and expanded buildings in East Midtown; the landmarks in the area and the developers who support the current proposal.”
Mayor-elect de Blasio applauded the action in an issued statement and pledged to revisit the issue. In a later statement, the Bloomberg Administration wrote: “Due to a lack of City Council support, we are withdrawing the application for the rezoning of East Midtown. The inability to reach a consensus on the plan’s details is regrettable, but it was encouraging that nearly everyone involved in the process recognized the need for the area to be rezoned to ensure that it remains competitive with other business districts around the world, and we appreciate the time that Speaker Quinn, Council Member Garodnick, and Council staff put into this issue. We are glad to at least be leaving the next administration a blueprint for future action.”
This all means that the looming deadline of this week is gone – and hopefully with it, the City will take the opportunity to really investigate and change the plan so that it satisfies all the stakeholders – not just the real estate lobby. There are literally dozens of buildings in the area which merit consideration as landmarks, there needs to be a clearer sense of how future decision-making in funding projects and development is made, the needed public infrastructure projects must be guaranteed and begun and questions of what kind of buildings will be allowed to be built need to be answered to everyone’s satisfaction.
The City failed to gain consensus on this plan by not clearly addressing these issues with the public and failing to make clear the real need for this proposal. Thanks to the strong stand of the City Council – who are answering the public’s call for answers and acceptable solutions – New York now has this opportunity.
Thank you everyone who supported our position and made their voice known to policy-makers on this issue. This is far from over, but this is an important day for community preservation. We have shown through our collective effort that New Yorkers are the experts on their neighborhoods and our concerns matter. We are ready to work with the new Administration and Council, as well as our allies at the Community Boards and colleague organizations, to fashion a plan that benefits all New Yorkers.