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Curbed Cup 1st round: (8) Midtown East vs. (9) Crown Heights

Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

Photos courtesy Max Touhey

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, is kicking off with 16 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. We’ll reveal each of the neighborhoods this week, and polls will be open for 24 hours so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the eliminations commence!


Midtown East (8)

A 78-block rezoning that’s set to modernize Midtown East in the coming years took center stage this year, with the city unanimously approving the long in the works rezoning over the summer. That’ll help create 6.8 million square feet of new office space, and (in theory) 28,000 new jobs.

Another massive tower—One Vanderbilt—continued to make progress near Grand Central, and will eventually rise to 1,400 feet. Norman Foster’s 900-foot office tower is also on the rise, adding to Midtown East’s already packed skyline.

Still, a different neighborhood rezoning proved to be more divisive; Sutton Place residents protested the rise of a proposed 800-foot condo, and eventually pushed forward a 10-block rezoning to limit the height of skyscrapers along Sutton Place. The rezoning was approved last month, and halted construction on the condo, but work could resume following an appeal.

In the continuous back and forth between preservation and new development, the latest battle is now being fought over Philip Johnson’s Modernist skyscraper at 550 Madison Avenue. Snøhetta has proposed a redesign, but preservationists want it landmarked. We will have to wait to see who eventually prevails.


Crown Heights (9)

Similarly in Crown Heights, a rezoning battle also took center stage: the planned conversion of the Bedford-Union Armory. Despite strong opposition from local residents, the city approved a rezoning of the armory that will now allow for the creation of 400 rentals, 250 of which will be affordable, three basketball courts, a swimming pool, and more sports venues.

Colin D. Young/Shutterstock

Following the pushback from locals, the city eventually decided to scrap the market-rate condos that were originally part of the proposal. Despite these changes, many locals were not appeased, and the Legal Aid Society is now planning to pursue legal action against the development.

Aside from the Bedford-Union Armory, several new projects are also in various stages of development. A former neighborhood brewery might make way for two 30-story towers; Studio Gang is working on a swanky new firehouse; and co-living startup Common expanded its NYC empire by opening a new location in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood was also in the news thanks to a controversy over the restaurant Summerhill, whose owner tried to market a wall pocked with fake bullet holes as “Instagrammable.” Neighborhood pressure eventually forced the owner to cover it up—and the ensuing battle laid bare the tension between longtime residents and the newcomers who’ve dramatically changed the landscape of Crown Heights.

It’s now up to you to pick which neighborhood should advance to the next round. Cast your vote below, and may the best neighborhood win!