A move to upzone Midtown East around Grand Central Terminal may make one of Mayor Bloomberg's final accomplishments while in office the most transformative and lasting to the city's skyline. According to the Observer, a plan presented at last night's Community Board 5 meeting addresses 74 city blocks stretching from 37th Street to 57 Street, and would allow a vertical expansion of the skyline to heights not reached since the 1930s. The plan is a mix of general upzoning—allowing developers to build higher as a matter of course—and the creation of special permits if suitable projects purchase enough air rights or pay into a special Development Investment Bonus fund that would be used to pay for needed infrastructure improvements.
Not just any single building owner will be allowed to shove a spire into the skyline. Restrictions will limit megatowers to property that occupies an entire avenue of blockfront (e.g., 425 Park Avenue) and must sit on a 25,000-square-foot lot, according to Bloomberg News. Most of the larger activity should take place around Grand Central Terminal, around which will form a core district that will allow building heights of 700-800 feet "approaching the height of 30 Rockefeller Center."
Special permits and land review processes would have to be granted if builders wanted to go higher—like Empire State Building high—but it would be possible. None of this will be happening too soon. Any change in plans will have a sunrise provision, meaning that they won't take place until 2017.
· How About Another Empire State Building or Two? City Outlines Mega Midtown East Rezoning [NYO]
· New York City May Allow Taller Towers Near Grand Central [Bloomberg]