Plans to Supersize Midtown Manhattan Unveiled

Turning its attention from trimming waistlines to expanding skylines, Matt Chaban delivers the details on the Bloomberg administration's proposed upzoning for the east side of Midtown Manhattan.
July 12, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Unveiled at a presentation to Community Board 5 last night, the city's massive upzoning plans for 74 blocks on the eastside of Manhattan between 39th and 57th Streets are aimed at, "preparing the Central Business District for a major modernization over the coming decades."

So how big is the upzoning? "It is big. No, really big. Bigger than almost anything the city has ever seen. Empire State Building big," writes Chaban. Densities in select blocks will be bumped to floor area ratios of between 18-24, by right. Developers will be able to apply for FAR bonuses in some areas, including the Grand Central core subdistrict, where "a whopping 30 FAR" will be possible, "on par with the skyline defining Empire State Building (FAR of 33, the only thing in town that comes close)."

"While supportive of the idea, the community board was taken aback by many of the proposals. 'The amount of density here is incredible, and I applaud the city for being ambitious' Mr. Mann [chair of the board's transportation committee] said. 'But I don't think many of the issues have been thought through that will keep Midtown from being overwhelmed.'"

One important element of the proposal pointed out by Chaban is a "sunrise provision" that puts off the application of the changes until 2017. According to Chaban, "This is meant as a protection for the city's considerable investment in Hudson Yards-Mr. Ruchala [project manager for the rezoning from the Department of City Planning] called that 'our top priority'-but that left many on the board wondering why this rezoning could not simply wait five years. Their explanation, at times implicit, occasionally explicit, was that the administration, and its partners in Big Real Estate did not feel it could wait."

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Published on Thursday, July 12, 2012 in The New York Observer
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