NYC Rezoning Threatens Historic Buildings

New York's Municipal Arts Society has released a list of 17 historic buildings it believes are threatened by the Bloomberg administration's plans to re-zone a significant portion of the area surrounding Grand Central Terminal.
December 13, 2012, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Matt Chaban looks at the seemingly intentional consequences of the Bloomberg Administration's Midtown East rezoning plan, which in incentivizing the redevelopment of obsolete office buildings, threatens some of the city's landmarks. Better know buildings such at the Yale Club and the Gordon Bunshaft designed Union Carbide Building, as well as lesser known treasures such as the neo-Gothic former New York Bible Society building, are threatened.  

City Planning’s proposed East Midtown re-zoning has the potential to dramatically change the area and threaten the mix of old and new buildings that define the neighborhood as uniquely New York,” MAS president Vin Cipolla wrote in a release. “A holistic vision for the future of East Midtown must support a mix of businesses, people and buildings. Retaining the diverse, and historic, building stock is a critical component of maintaining a vibrant and successful business district.”

"The problem the city and the activists encounter when pursuing such a program," explains Chaban, "is that development and preservation are inherently at odds. Consider 445 Park Avenue, a late 1940s office tower designed by Kahn & Jacobs. In its plea to the city, MAS describes it as, 'The first post-war office building on Park Avenue–and the first fully air-conditioned commercial structure in New York City–445 Park Avenue set the stage for future development along Park Avenue.'”

"This is certainly some sacred history, but it underscores the very reason the administration has undertaken this plan. It wants to do away with old, obsolete offices like this very one, with outdated mechanicals and inferior (by modern standards) ceiling heights. In fact, in the Department of City Planning’s presentation on the subject, we see a number of old buildings that look quite a lot like 445 Park Avenue."

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Published on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 in The New York Observer
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