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City Planning Wants To Certify Midtown East Rezoning In April

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At a community board task force meeting last night, the Department of City Planning revealed a lot more details about the proposed Midtown East rezoning, which, in their eyes, is basically set. Crain's reports that City Planning hopes to certify the proposal in early April to get the ball rolling on the public review process. During this same time, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will be examining the landmark potential of 32 buildings that City Planning identified in the neighborhood as worthy of preservation. Some structures that made the cut are the Graybar Building, the Yale Club, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Philip Morris building, Citicorp Center, and even the universally disliked MetLife tower.

The city also announced that it plans to sell its air rights within the district for $250/square foot. This money would go into a District Improvement Bonus (DIB), and it would be used for creating more public space and improving transportation infrastructure in the area. The first projects that would be tackled are upgrading the subway platforms on the Lexington Avenue line in Grand Central and closing Vanderbilt Avenue to vehicles to create pedestrian plazas. Private property owners took issue with the city's $250 price, saying that this could undercut the prices they set. Others worried that the price wouldn't generate enough revenue to cover the costs of public improvements.

The city is selling its air rights to encourage developers to building bigger, which is the whole point of the rezoning. More air rights will allow developers to double or triple the size of their buildings, letting some grow nearly as tall as the Empire State Building. There are some restrictions in regards to the DIB, though. Any developer who buys in would be prohibited from building residential, since the whole point is to make the city's commercial district more competitive. By 2033, City Planning expects to see 5 million more square feet of office space in the area, which stretches roughly from Fifth Ave to parts of Third and Second avenues between East 39th and East 57th Streets. That's a 5.5 percent increase from the amount that's there now.
· City Reveals Key Midtown Upzone Details [Crain's]
· Midtown East Rezoning coverage [Curbed]