Bloomberg is pushing the City Council to adopt new zoning laws for Midtown East, from 39th Street to 57th Street, by October next year, with the first permits for new towers given in 2017.
The Bloomberg administration says that the 70-block area around Grand Central Terminal needs new growth to keep up with the central business districts of Tokyo and London, the New York Times reported. Currently, about 300 of the neighborhood’s 400 buildings are over 50 years old, and the stodgy structures lack the large column-less spaces, high ceilings and eco-friendly features in vogue with corporate tenants.
The rezoning would ease the process of demolishing old buildings to make way for shiny new towers. Developers would be able to erect buildings twice the size currently allowed around the area, which is capped at 30 floors. For example, the owner of the 19-story Roosevelt Hotel at Madison Avenue and 45th Street could take down the building and install a 58-story structure.
Critics raised concerns that Bloomberg’s plan would compete with two current revitalization projects: one in the Far West Side, where 50 blocks were rezoned in 2005, and downtown, where the World Trade Center site is searching for commercial tenants, the New York Times reported. Another issue is the middling market for new office buildings in Midtown, which has been overshadowed by the hipper Midtown South district.
Even if the plan is approved, developers for Midtown East would have to wait five years before breaking ground, which would leave time for the massive Hudson Yards project on the Far West Side to take off.