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August 9, 2017
by Justin Pascone
Grand Central Terminal in Midtown East. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

On 08.09.17, New York City Council approved the long-awaited rezoning of Midtown East. The plan, originally proposed in the twilight of the Bloomberg Administration, allows the development of new, modern office buildings throughout the city’s largest business district in exchange for improvements for pedestrians and commuters.

New commercial buildings will be able increase in size by purchasing unused development rights from landmarked properties in the area and, if they are near a subway station, committing to transit improvements. 20% of each air rights transaction will be taken by the city and put toward a public-realm improvement fund, which will be run by appointees from elected officials and community groups.

Currently, Midtown East generates 250,000 jobs and 10% of the city’s property tax revenue. However, city officials have described the office buildings in the area as increasingly out-of-date and inefficient for today’s companies, with the average age of buildings topping 75 years. The district’s access to public transit, once responsible for its historic growth, is now at capacity.

The zoning plan is expected to generate 16 new buildings and 6.8 million square feet in new commercial office space over the next 20 years, along with an additional 6.6 million square feet of older office space that will be upgraded into Class A office space. The resulting developments are expected to create up to 28,000 new, permanent jobs and 23,000 construction jobs in the next two decades.

The final rezoning covers 78 blocks around Grand Central Terminal between the east side of Third Avenue and the west side of Madison Avenue, from East 39th Street to East 57th Street. For the complete plan, continue here.

Pulse Points

  • Registration is open for the Hyper-Efficient Building Workshops, AIANY and Urban Green Council’s in-depth training on the design of hyper-efficient buildings and compliance with Local Law 31/32. The two-day workshops are limited to 25 participants and open to all architects, designers, engineers, and construction trade professionals. The next workshops are being held on  08.29.17-08.30.17 and on 11.07.17-11.08.17 at the Center for Architecture. To learn more and register, continue here.
  • In preparation of our municipal elections this fall, AIANY, the Urban Green Council, the Real Estate Board of New York, and 32BJ SEIU have partnered on the 2017 Green Building Roadmap, which recommends critical green-energy policy for New York City.
  • The AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has released their 2017 Policy Framework. The document outlines a series of policy issues and recommended actions on local and regional issues around mobility, placemaking, sustainability, building smarter, and planning/financing.
  • On 07.19.17, CreateNYC, New York City’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan was released. The plan lays out a blueprint for expanding on the strengths of the city’s cultural sector while targeting investments to address historically underserved communities across all five boroughs. The full plan can be viewed here.
  • On 07.25.19, the AIA announced the AIA 2030 Commitment, a voluntary initiative for architecture firms to commit their practices to advancing the AIA’s goal of carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030, has expanded beyond 400 firms.
  • Summer Streets, the NYC Department of Transportation’s popular program, which turns Park Avenue into a car-free oasis on Saturdays, returns on 08.12.17, and 08.19.17, from 7am-1pm.

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