Council Countdown on Midtown East
Midtown East Press Conference
October 29, 2013
The New York City Council will be preparing to vote on the Midtown East upzoning proposal. The Conservancy testified at a hearing of the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises on October 22, restating the position that the proposal ignores the landmark quality architecture, which should be the foundation for revitalizing this section of the City. Representatives of the Community Board’s Multi-Board Task Force and an array of advocacy groups requested that the Council reject the plan and allow the next Mayor and next Council to chart the course for the future of Midtown East.
The Council vote will be the last time that the public can add its voice to this debate. If the plan is approved, substantial new construction will replace the historic architecture of Midtown East without public review.
A new poll commissioned by the company that owns the air rights at Grand Central Terminal shows a lack of support for upzoning Midtown East. Across the City, 62% oppose the plan, 85% thing it’s more important to get the plan right than to pass it this year, and an overwhelming 93% think that it’s important to protect the historic buildings and landmarks of Midtown East.
The City Council will vote in just two weeks.
Let them know that you want the Landmarks Commission to have time to designate the great buildings of Midtown East. This plan threatens the historic buildings that complement Grand Central Terminal. Designed by the starchitects of their day, these magnificent structures are the City’s link to its history and its legacy. The mix of old and new is what makes New York so vibrant. The administration’s haphazard proposal risks losing more than it gains by ignoring the historical resources of the area.
That Midtown East needs a plan to overhaul its infrastructure before adding several construction sites and tens of thousands of commuters every day.
The platforms at Grand Central and the sidewalks of Midtown East are already dangerously overcrowded. This plan has nebulous promises of transit improvements without any provisions for additional users. How can we begin to evaluate a proposal when the supposed public good is completely undefined? A firm commitment to desperately needed infrastructure improvements is a starting point for a proposal, not a last minute bargaining chip.
That the proposal is being rushed through the land use process to stand as a “legacy” for the current Administration. This plan could bury or obscure Grand Central and the Chrysler Building with 110-story towers.
That the public should continue to have a say in how many or where or when new buildings will be developed. Civic engagement is a hallmark of New York City. This plan, however, seeks to undermine the public’s involvement. The proposal includes a grand scheme to improve the “public realm” with pedestrian plazas and green spaces, but there is no dedicated funding, and there will be no chance for public input.