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Midtown East rezoning plans face pushback

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Community Board 6 voted down the proposal this week

UPDATE (3/16/17): Despite community pushback, the Manhattan Borough Board, led by its president Gale Brewer, has voted to support the Greater East Midtown Rezoning proposal, The Real Deal reports. Both Community Board 5 and 6 voted against the proposal last week citing the lack of public space and potential encroachment of this office space-boosting initiative into residential areas. The Borough Board’s decision is just the next step in the ongoing ULURP, and the next stop is the City Planning Commission.

The plan to rezone Midtown East to build more high-tech offices is experiencing some pushback (as one might expect) as it makes its way through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Community Board 6 voted against the Greater East Midtown rezoning proposal in its current form this week, the Commercial Observer has learned.

Some of the major concerns the board had were the lack of new public space in the proposal, the specific boundaries of the proposed rezoning, and the fact that these new office buildings will likely block natural light.

The rezoning proposal concerns a 78-block stretch that roughly stretches from East 39th Street on the south side and goes up East 57th Street, between Second and Third Avenues on the eastern border and Fifth Avenue on the west.

The plan essentially concerns the transfer of air rights from landmarked buildings in the area to properties that aren’t just adjacent to those buildings. The city is hoping that the rezoning will spur the creation of at least 16 new office buildings, 600,000 square feet of retail, and make Midtown East an office hub much like the Financial District and Hudson Yard.

The land-use review procedure got underway in January this year, and still has a long way to go before anything is finalized. Aside from Community Board 6, whose vote is non-binding, Community Board 5 will vote on the proposal tonight. After that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will weigh in, before the proposal heads to the City Planning Commission, and then the City Council after that.

Brewer told the Commercial Observer that the “no” vote wasn’t all that concerning because the very purpose of the review was to fine tune the rezoning proposal and that CB6’s recommendations would help achieve that goal.