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Garodnick's Political Success Linked to Midtown East Rezone

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In the past few months, Councilman Dan Garodnick has gone from a relative unknown in city politics to wielding a massive amount of influence with regards to the Midtown East rezone. Now, some real estate executives are intimating that Garodnick's aspiration to succeed Christine Quinn as City Council Speaker is directly tied to the project.

Despite mounting political pressure from the real estate industry, Garodnick has refused to unequivocally endorse the project, which would allow the construction of taller buildings in a 70-block area in Midtown East, most of which falls under Garodnick's district. Instead, he has raised numerous questions about the pricing of air rights and how the project would affect congestion.

Louis Colletti, president and CEO of the Building Trades' Employers Association, sees Garodnick's position as "an opportunity" for him to "really step forward and show what true leadership is by supporting the Midtown East zoning proposal." Others, like president of hte New York Building Congress, Richard Anderson, says that Garodnick has "got to find a way to mollify some of those folks who are raising a variety of issues and still keep the rezoning going forward."

Certain real estate executives, however, take a far more cynical tone, directly comparing Garodnick to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who blocked a Bloomberg proposal to convert the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall in 2009. Diaz was considered a viable candidate for quite some time, but after blocking the Armory project, his citywide political ambitions never really materialized and real estate executives imply that Garodnick could face the same fate if he kills the Midtown East rezone.

Garodnick, however, remains apprehensive, saying: "We are taking a hard look at this proposal, which still has flaws. And we'll decide whether it is ready for approval in the time that we have."
· "Real estate industry links Midtown East to Garodnick's political future" [Capital NY]