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Thread: Midtown / Midtown East Rezoning Plan

  1. #211

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    Is that a possibility? I hope so, since the building is crap.

  2. #212
    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
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    Hate that building, especially knowing what it replaced.

  3. #213

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    The MTA should sell the prime Madison Ave real estate, and maybe downtown also, move to cheaper space in the boroughs, and use the proceeds for capital expenses in the system.

  4. #214

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    Problem is that the money they'd save is a drop in bucket when it comes to capital expenses. I agree though, keep the overhead down and milk your real estate as much as possible.

  5. #215

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    They could do land leases, and get an income stream for a hundred years.

  6. #216
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Sightlines of the Chrysler from 42nd should absolutely be preserved. Enough of the BS.

  7. #217
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    City bends on midtown east rezone

    Planning Department releases a series of possible amendments to its controversial plan. New residential units are likely, and landmarks, including several houses of worship, would be allowed to sell their air rights.

    By Daniel Geiger

    The city's planning department released an amended version of its sweeping midtown east rezoning plan on Thursday in an effort to address some of the concerns of a growing number of critics.

    Prominent among the changes, is a proposal to allow residential units to take up to 20% of the space in the new generation of state-of-the-art office skyscrapers that the rezoning plan is designed to entice developers to erect. 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 likely be an alluring option for developers of a new wave of 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. Given the current robust strength of the city's housing market, the existence of a residential option will likely add considerable fuel to developers' willingness to build new towers. 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.

    The inclusion of residential space could net more money for the city, which plans to sell the development rights that would allow developers to build bigger in order to pay for infrastructure and transit improvements in and around Grand Central Terminal. The city announced in the spring that it will aim to charge $250 per square foot for commercial development rights it sells. But residential space is far more valuable currently, and City Planning staff said those development rights would be priced at a higher number in the coming months.

    Another high profile change to the city's rezoning plan, is a modification 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.
    The religious institutions, and other landmarks like the office building Lever House and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, together have well over 2 million square feet of unused development rights. They had complained that while the city was planning to create a class of its own air rights to sell across the midtown east district stretching from Madison to Third avenues between East 39th and East 57th streets, the religious institutions had been effectively barred from reaping a similar windfall. The landmarks and religious institutions will be eligible to begin transferring their development rights beginning in 2019, two years after the city will begin selling its air rights in the district.

    One amendment that many people had expected the city to put forward on Thursday was conspicuous by its absence. Many landlords 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 unaltered, despite some push back from the real estate community, 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.

    Another amendment seeks to mend fences with the New York Hotel Trades Council, the union that represents hotel workers and has called on the city to require an approval process for new hotels built as part of the rezoning plan. City Planning is proposing that no new development partaking in the rezoning plan be permitted to build more than 20% of its floor area as hotel space. That would mean that any dedicated hotel project would have to go through a special review, which critics of the unions say will essentially allow it to flex its political muscle and require new hotels to use union labor.

    The amendments will not be fixtures of a new plan, but rather options that can be selected by the City Council to address concerns when it considers the plan for final approval later this year. The announcement coincides with—and sources say, hopes to counter—a planned announcement today by a coalition of community boards in Manhattan rejecting the rezoning plan.

    The city has kept details of its modifications to the rezoning plan close to the vest, prompting spectators from commenting openly or in detail leading up to the release on Thursday. But 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.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article...TATE/130719884

  8. #218
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    Revised Plan for Taller Midtown Fails to Assuage Critics


    Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    But the administration is now moving to rezone a 70-block area around Grand Central Terminal in densely packed Midtown for even taller skyscrapers, an initiative that it says is necessary in order for the district to retain its allure as a premier office district.

    With the proposal now wending its way through the public approval process, the New York City Planning Department released a series of minor modifications to its own plan on Wednesday in an attempt to mollify some critics in the real estate industry.

    The revisions provided little comfort, however, to those with stronger misgivings about the proposal, including community groups, preservationists and even some landlords who worry that the proposal is needlessly rushed and could result in a drastic increase in density in a neighborhood where the public transportation system is already overwhelmed.

    Lola Finkelstein, the chairwoman of a task force comprising Community Boards 1, 4, 5 and 6, which cover the district, said the groups remained opposed to it.

    “If you start building on a faulty foundation, the building is not going to be stable,” Ms. Finkelstein said. “These changes may satisfy some special interests, but unfortunately, they ignore the broader public interest.”

    She added that the city must reliably invest in the transit system, protect landmark-worthy buildings and “make sure that New Yorkers have a real voice in the future of their skyline.”
    The Municipal Art Society echoed the criticisms from the community boards.

    The hotel workers union also found the latest changes less than satisfying because, it said, the city failed to ensure that there would be good-paying jobs in new hotels. “Despite pleas from the community, property owners and elected officials,” Josh Gold, of the Hotel Trades Council, said, “this plan continues to jeopardize tens of thousands of middle-class New Yorkers.”

    Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel has said the changes are necessary if the city is going to continue to attract top corporate tenants to a district whose office buildings were largely built more than a half-century ago.

    Under the proposal, developers could build towers twice the size now permitted on certain sites in the district, which covers an area stretching from 39th to 57th Streets, roughly between Third and Fifth Avenues.

    In the first stage, the city would sell developers the rights to build towers that are 20 percent larger than what is permitted under current regulations, with the revenue used to improve subway connections and public spaces in the neighborhood. A developer could build an even larger building by buying unused development rights from Grand Central Terminal.

    The proposal has set off a debate in urban planning circles, although all sides agree that it is unlikely to result in more than two buildings in the next decade and a total of 4.5 million square feet of new office space over the next 30 years.

    The modifications announced on Wednesday would allow St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Church and Central Synagogue to sell and transfer unused development rights to a broader range of sites than currently permitted.

    Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said he was “satisfied and gratified” by the change.

    Yet with the city competing to sell development rights, the revised rezoning proposal would almost certainly translate into less revenue for transit improvements

    The amendments, under certain circumstances, would also permit developers who erect new towers to include some apartments or hotel rooms in the project, two things that had previously been prohibited.

    “We’re responding to the many concerns we’ve heard,” Edith Hsu-Chen, of the Planning Department, said. “The purpose of this is to ensure the long-term position of East Midtown as a world-class office district.”

    The real estate industry was generally enthused on Wednesday.

    “Everyone is getting something out of this,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s lobbying arm, “although no one is totally pleased.”

    Still, the owner of Grand Central Terminal, Argent Ventures, believes that the city is undervaluing the air rights and undermining its ability to obtain a better price. Argent may sue over the issue.

    At the same time, some landlords and developers are concerned that the incentives the city is offering developers in Midtown could undercut initiatives on the West Side and downtown, where new towers are desperately seeking tenants.

    And despite the city’s description of the dire need for new towers in Midtown, the biggest growth area has been on the West Side, where Internet and technical firms have sought a whole different aesthetic: vintage brick industrial buildings.

    “The market always needs a certain amount of replenishment,” said Barry M. Gosin, chief executive of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a real estate services company. “The question is, How much? There’s already a significant amount of new inventory in the marketplace.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/19/ny...ref=realestate

  9. #219

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    People who oppose this plan based upon preservation issues are jackasses. I'd rather save all of the Pre-war towers than have new 1,000 foot towers built. In reality though, even without the rezoning plan, old towers like The Roosevelt and the MTA HQ will be razed anyway and replaced by crappy 500 foot glass boxes like 510 Madison.

  10. #220
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    The Plan to Swallow Midtown

    By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN

    Is New York falling behind Shanghai and Chicago? It will, the Bloomberg administration argues, unless the city replaces aging commercial buildings with giant new office towers in East Midtown — a 73-block area around Grand Central Terminal, up to 57th Street, between Madison and Third Avenues. An ill-conceived rezoning proposal, now wending its way through the approval gantlet, is a parting attempt by the administration to remap this large swath of Manhattan before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s term ends in December. Transit advocates; various elected officials, among them Daniel R. Garodnick, a City Council member from the area; along with design and preservation groups and an alliance of seven community boards, have all raised concerns about the plan.

    It is awaiting recommendation from the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, before moving toward a City Council vote. Mr. Stringer has an opportunity to make a public-minded stand, as he recently did with Penn Station.

    What’s the problem with the plan?

    For starters, its priorities are upside down, focusing on buildings, not what’s around them. There is too little concern in this proposal for what the architect Robert A. M. Stern has, in an Op-Ed article for The New York Times, rightly called “place-making.”

    New York can surely never win a skyscraper race with Shanghai or Singapore. Its future, including the future of Midtown real estate values, depends on strengthening and expanding what already makes the city a global magnet and model. This means mass transit, pedestrian-friendly streets, social diversity, neighborhoods that don’t shut down after 5 p.m., parks and landmarks like Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.

    If New York wants to learn from London, Tokyo and Shanghai, the lessons aren’t about erecting new skyscrapers. Big cities making gains on New York are investing in rail stations, airports and high-speed trains, while New York rests on the laurels of Grand Central and suffers the 4, 5 and 6 trains, which serve East Midtown. They carry more passengers daily than the entire Washington Metro system.

    Improving the lives of the 1.3 million people riding those trains would instantly make the city more competitive. Adding thousands of commuters who work in giant new office buildings without upgrading the surrounding streets and subways — the Second Avenue subway won’t do it — will only set the city back.

    New development is of course crucial to the economic future of the city, and will be a boon if it is built around healthy public spaces and thoughtfully integrated with historic preservation. New York isn’t Rome; its skyline can evolve and should. Tall buildings belong to the city’s DNA. Density is healthy.

    But the rezoning of East Midtown harks backward, to the era of “Mad Men.” The modern work environment is in flux. The flagship company tower is no longer the only corporate model.

    Businesses are seeking spaces in untraditional neighborhoods with distinctive building stocks, like the Flatiron district, Chelsea and Lower Manhattan, and Dumbo, in Brooklyn. Google chose Chelsea because the district’s vibe seemed to match the company’s self-image, and many of its employees live within walking distance or a short subway ride away.

    The administration’s rezoning plan imagines Fortune 500 companies demanding millions of square feet for giant new headquarters in glass towers on Park Avenue, as if this were 1965. There may well be some demand for those spaces. But how much demand, without the neighborhood amenities and services that led Google and other companies to look outside Midtown?

    The Bloomberg administration has certainly not been tone deaf to place-making during the last dozen years, transforming many city parks, waterfronts and plazas, and embracing sustainable design. But its plan for East Midtown fails to recognize a fundamental paradigm shift. The focus in designing cities has now turned from buildings to the spaces between those buildings — sidewalks, plazas, parks — whose disposition requires planning.

    The Bloomberg administration has focused on zoning, which is a blunt instrument for organizing a city. It is not planning. This proposal envisions developers of the biggest buildings contributing to a fund for vague, as-yet-undetermined improvements to subway stations and other public spaces. The fund is a variation on an old, failed city policy: hinging prospective, unsecured benefits on the actions of private developers, which, as often as not, fail to pay off.

    The fear that these new towers might overwhelm beloved monuments like Grand Central or the Chrysler Building is addressed by Bloomberg officials with a wink and nod: given the other obstacles to new construction, only a few big buildings will realistically be built during the next decade, should the rezoning plan go through.

    Which means, then, that the fund is a ruse. A couple of extra-big buildings won’t throw off nearly enough money for the necessary improvements that the city argues are the payoff for approving the plan in the first place.

    The one sop in the proposal imagines turning Vanderbilt Avenue, along the west side of Grand Central, into a pedestrian street, an idea that has already raised concerns among some current occupants and is undercut by the shadows no doubt accompanying immense new commercial towers.

    In recent years, the city has granted approvals on a building-by-building basis for exceptional cases in Midtown, as it might now do with a new office building that Norman Foster is designing at 425 Park Avenue, near 55th Street, which looks to be a significant addition to the city’s architecture. Another case is 1 Vanderbilt, a tower that S. L. Green, the developer, is proposing for the corner of Vanderbilt and 42nd Street, to be designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox.

    So the question arises: Why rezone all 73 blocks? It’s conspicuous that the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which answers to the mayor, has seemingly dragged its feet on the landmark status of 32 buildings under consideration in East Midtown. The administration’s proposal, at its heart, desires to limit public oversight, greasing the wheels for development.

    New Yorkers can be combative and counterproductive when it comes to new construction. But they will make major concessions to attract big businesses — if there are tangible returns like the High Line or Brooklyn Bridge Park or the extension to the No. 7 subway. Lately, the city has banked considerable public capital on commercial development at the World Trade Center site and Hudson Yards on the West Side, with which East Midtown would inevitably compete for tenants.

    Mindful of undercutting those other two projects, the Bloomberg administration includes a “sunrise” provision into its Midtown plan: Developers could buy properties in the area, should the proposal be approved — even rip those properties down — but wouldn’t be granted building permits to erect new towers before 2017, giving the World Trade Center site and the West Side more time to develop.

    This implies there is little rush to rezone, only the administration’s rush to get this proposal approved before the next mayor takes over.

    If development can wait, so should rezoning.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/ar...l?ref=nyregion

  11. #221

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    I wonder what the NYT's agenda is why they dislike this proposal so much. I don't see what the big deal is. I don't see any office towers resulting from the rezoning anytime in the near future.
    Last edited by Derek2k3; July 25th, 2013 at 10:50 AM.

  12. #222
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Maybe because the plan as presented acknowledges that it's not currently needed and is basically a going away gift from Bloomberg to his RE pals.

  13. #223

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    I saw that saw that article, and just couldn't believe how completely full of shit it was. One thing I found completely ridiculous was how he was complaining about the lack of transportation improvements in an area that going to served by two massive new projects (LIRR East Side connection,and the 2nd Ave subway)

  14. #224
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    2nd Avenue Subway has no funding to cover the section nearest Midtown East (Phase 3 of SAS covers that area). Phase One of SAS is the only part under construction:

    http://secondavenuesagas.com/2010/12...-weekend-work/


  15. #225
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    I don't see why East Midtown, an already heavily developed area with a good mix of building stock, should be rushed into denser development when the whole West Side and WTC still need big tenants to fulfill the envisioned projects.

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