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Critics: Developers Shouldn't Be Able To Pay To Build Bigger

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The controversial proposal to rezone the area around Grand Central Station to allow for the construction of taller, denser, and more efficient office buildings has already faced more than its share of critics: preservationists, community boards, and unionized hotel workers, to name a few. Now we can add one more name to the list: the City Club, an apparently rather inactive advocacy group. Given that it has no website, how prominent can it be? As reported by the Times, it issued a 24-page report (warning: PDF!) detailing what's wrong with the whole shebang. Namely, the particular aspect of the plan that would allow developers seeking to build larger structures than the old zoning allowed to pay $250/square foot into a fund that would then get channeled towards improvements to transit and public spaces.

"The club's critique said the key issue is not the dollar amount of the fee," the NYT writes, "but the fact that the city is creating a system in which developers would pay cash to enlarge their buildings." Well, given as how this is an incentive structure used in numerous other parts of NYC on numerous occasions, we're pretty sure precedent is on the city's side. The group?which is led by Michael Gruen, a land-use lawyer and former Historic Districts Council president known, among other things, for championing to save Grand Central?says that if developers already own the air rights into which they wish to build, the rezoning proposals request for a fee amounts to "extortion." Just another small hurdle on the already-epic road to a City Council decision this fall.
· Bloomberg's Plan for Bigger East Midtown Towers Is 'Zoning for Dollars,' Group Says [NYT]
· All Midtown East rezoning coverage [Curbed]
?Photo via Curbed Flickr Pool/i'mjustsayin