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An Un-Rezoned Midtown East Is Losing Tenant After Tenant

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Did anyone think that one of New York's most talked-about real estate issues of 2013 would just fade away in the new year? Yeah, neither did we, and so the epic debate over rezoning Midtown East has reared its head again in Steve Cuozzo's Post column today. He writes that the number of tenants who are leaving the area and other companies who are actively choosing office space in other parts of the city, from Hudson Yards to the World Trade Center site, should serve as "a wake-up call" to City Council member Daniel Garodnick and other reluctant types who so slowed the approval process that the rezoning didn't pass before Mayor Bloomberg left office.

To prove his point that the rezoning is necessary to stay competitive, the somewhat curmudgeonly, definitely pro-rezoning reporter listed no less than 18 different firms who have chosen to set up shop in neighborhoods other than Midtown East.

1) Reed Smith, a law firm, will move to under-construction 7 Bryant Park
2) Citigroup is relocating from 399 Park Avenue to 388 and 390 Greenwich streets in Tribeca
3) Jones Day, another law firm, will leave East 41st Street for the greener pastures of Battery Park City's Brookfield Place
4) Time Warner, Coach, and L'Oreal are going to reside at Hudson Yards
5) Facebook ---> the Village (in a Frank Gehry-designed office, no less)
6) Sony's new offices are near Madison Square Park
7) Conde Nast and GroupM have been wooed by World Trade Center sites (One and 3, respectively)
8) Twitter is heading to 245 West 17th Street in Chelsea, "a building that, although more than 100 years old, is more 'modern' than East Midtown's collection of 1960s, "Mad Men"-era dinosaurs." Ouch.
9) Heck, IBM's Watson Group left Westchester County's Armonk and ended up with a chunk of the Death Star, a.ka. 51 Astor Place

Cuozzo goes on to list Google, Microsoft, Tiffany, Bank of America, Reuters, Ernst & Young, the New York Times Co., Grey Group, and HarperCollins as other entities that shunned the area in favor of others as their home bases. Whether these decisions were actually because of a lack of updated office space in Midtown East or for other reasons is not really addressed, but Cuozzo's conclusion is clear—zoning laws passed in 1961 aren't dong the area any favors: "What are they looking for? Features and amenities that don't exist in East Midtown, whose buildings are on average 73 years old and lack state-of-the-art electronic and environmental features." It's a sharp jab in the ribs for the Council to pick up the torch again on a revised rezoning proposal, to be sure, but will it work?
· An exodus from un-rezoned Midtown [NYP]
· All Midtown East Rezoning coverage [Curbed]
—Photo via Curbed Flickr Pool/Ryan Budhu