NYC Details Midtown Upzone; Will Critics be Quelled?

Just as the debate over the planned rezoning of the Midtown East neighborhood ossified into two strongly opposed camps, the city has provided more details on their recommendations and outlined an ambitious schedule for public review.

The day after pro-preservation and pro-development camps issued position papers hoping to sway city officials, planners outlined their latest thinking on the development incentives and preservation considerations that will accompany the proposed midtown east upzoning in a presentation to a community board task force. At the meeting, the planning department "revealed the price the city hopes to sell air rights within the rezoned area to promote new commercial development," reports Matt Chaban, and it "identified 32 buildings described as 'potential' landmarks worth saving."

By the reactions that followed, it appears as though preservationists may have more to cheer about. There was mixed response to the city's proposal to "sell air rights at $250 a square foot as part of an infrastructure-funding tool known as the District Improvement Bonus, or DIB." While some were concerned that the uniform price could "leave tens of millions of dollars on the table," developers held the opposite view. "It's a number that may be slightly high," said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. "I have had a couple of our member say to me that they were expecting it to come in lower."

"As for the landmarks," writes Chaban, "those in the preservation community were pleasantly surprised. Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, was happy to see that almost exactly the same number of landmarks are under consideration as when his group released a list of 33 buildings it thought worthy of saving, even if they are not the identical building."

"Another presentation to answer further questions about the plan and present remaining details is scheduled for March," notes Chaban. "But the rezoning is basically set at this point, in the administration's view."

Full Story: City reveals key midtown upzone details

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