There are a lot of people out there who are not fans of the city's Midtown East Rezoning proposal, and today the city announced a series of amendments that may allay some of their concerns. Before we detail the changes, it should be pointed out that these things are simply "options that can be selected by the City Council to address concerns" later this year when it votes on the full plan. Crain's reports that there are two major additions.
The first would allow for residential units to occupy up to 20 percent of space in the new office towers that the rezoning is meant to create; this amount could grow to 40 percent if developers acquire a special permit. Since residential development is worth more than commercial development, the air rights for the residential allowance would cost more than the $250 per square foot that the city is charging for commercial air rights. (To refresh: the city is making money off of this whole thing by selling unused air rights in order to let developers to build higher). No price for these development rights has been set.
The other addition is the option to let landmarks and religious institutions sell their air rights to developers. The previously plan left left them out (which pissed them off), but this change would allow buildings like St. Patrick's Cathedral and Central Synagogue to get in on the money-making action by extending the boundaries of the rezoned area from East 48th Street to East 57th Street between Madison and Third Avenues. Landmarks and places of worship will just have to wait to sell until 2019, two years after the city is allowed to begin sales.
Many real estate experts thought that the required size of a development size would change as well, but this is not the case. The plan states that a developer must have a site of 25,000-square-feet in order to be able to buy air rights, and critics wanted that requirement to be downsized so it would be easier and less expensive to assemble. Instead the only site requirement change is that the city relaxed its avenue-frontage requirement.
The options will likely lessen concerns for developers, but local officials in the area are still worried that the improvements to public spaces and infrastructure are not being given enough attention or money.
· City Bends On Midtown East Rezone [Crain's]
· Midtown East Rezoning [official]
· All Midtown East Rezoning [Curbed]