Community Boards Vote “No” on Midtown East Upzoning
Simulation of Midtown East upzoning from Environmental Simulation Center, LTD
A special task force representing four Community Boards voted to reject the proposed Midtown East upzoning in an unprecedented and detailed rebuttal of the proposal. Community Boards rarely flat-out reject City Planning Commission proposals. The “No” vote demonstrates how deeply flawed the proposal is.
“The consideration of the public’s needs was secondary to the interest of real estate developers,” said Lola Finkelstein, who chaired the task force representing Community Boards 1, 4, 5, and 6.
While the Boards agree that Midtown East needs to remain globally competitive, they said the City Administration’s proposal would not achieve that goal.
The Boards say in summary that:
- several eligible landmarks within the rezoning area are threatened;
- the timeline for the proposal is politically driven and needlessly rushed despite multiple requests to slow down the process and allow for a more thorough plan;
- the need for transit improvements is evident today but the proposed rezoning relies entirely on the speculative possibility of future payments for improvements;
- setting the price now for development rights the City will sell in the future will short change the City;
- the proposal would allow a drastic increase in density in an area the City downzoned in 1982 because it was so built-out;
- the proposed densities will overwhelm already crowded streets and sidewalks;
- the proposal marginalizes the public’s critical role in the review of land use by allowing extremely high buildings as of right;
- public improvements are exceptionally vague with no details on how what and when any improvements will be made;
- denying residential use in any new buildings is outdated and ignores the successful mixed use business districts around the world;
- building code and environmental guidelines in the proposal are insufficient to ensure that new buildings are models of sustainable development;
- encouraging new development in Midtown East puts City money invested in Hudson Yards and Lower Manhattan at risk.
The full Boards of CB 5 and 6 ratified the task force vote and are expected to submit their resolution to City Planning on July 1, at the end of the 60 days they have for review. Other Boards are expected to formally support them. The zoning proposal will then go to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for his 30-day review.