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Midtown East's Future in Nine Neighbor-Calming Sketches

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The Department of City Planning presented these drawings to a task force of Community Board members yesterday as a vision of what Midtown East could look like under Bloomberg's all-encompassing, altogether controversial rezoning plan. We know they're supposed to be sketches, but to us, they look sorta, well, sketchy. Like the pages of an eerie children's book ("See faceless pedestrians sit!"). Or a watercolor greeting card from idyllic Small Town, U.S.A.?which Midtown definitively is not.

The array of scribbles (above) was intended to be "conceptual," specifically focusing on how public space could change for the better if the proposal passed. Measures taken include increasing the number of trees, plantings, benches, curb extensions, and lighting, widening sidewalks, and pushing building entrances further back from the curb. Vanderbilt Avenue, just west of Grand Central, is conceived as a pedestrian-only plaza. Public space is all well and good, but the major fights in this rezoning battle have thus far been waged over buildings (like these... and these... oh, and these). Bloomberg wants to get the ball rolling in April, and it's doubtful that some pretty illustrations will placate die-hard opponents or architectural critics until there are more concrete plans on the (drawing) table.
· Midtown East rezoning coverage [Curbed]