The Soapbox: Many questions remain on East Midtown Rezoning

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood in each one. All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 650 words, to editor@townvillage.net.

By Barry Shapiro

For those not aware, East Midtown Rezoning is a city initiative to rezone roughly from 39th Street to 57th Street from Fifth Avenue to Third Avenue.
The proposed changes in the area will allow real estate developers to build higher and increase overall free space for development by about 6.5 percent. There will also be development of some public spaces and improvements to subway stations.

This along with the LIRR terminal at Grand Central planned to open in 2022 will significantly add to the area’s population density.

Major rezoning has to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires pertinent community boards to have their say. Negative votes by community board reps on the project’s Borough Council would have a somewhat damaging effect.

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Garodnick says East Midtown transit problems too big to fix with rezoning

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of B’Nai B’rith)

Council Member Dan Garodnick (Photo courtesy of B’Nai B’rith)

By Christian Brazil-Bautista

While the rezoning of East Midtown has been tied to transit improvements with promises of reworked subway stations, its overall effect may amount to a drop in a bucket.

“As to whether or not it would be enough to support the mass transit needs, definitely not. The transit needs in New York City and East Midtown are enormous,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, who serves as the co-chair of a steering committee tasked with creating a framework to revive the aging commercial district.

Garodnick, who made the statements during a B’nai B’rith Luncheon earlier this month, described the benefits of the East Midtown rezoning plan, which allows developers to build taller buildings in exchange for funding transportation improvements, as “on the margins” of the solution to the area’s transit requirements.

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