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Archive for February, 2017

MAS Comments Regarding the Greater East Midtown Proposal, ULURP No. 170186 ZRM Manhattan, NY

Background

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has played an active role in the rezoning of East Midtown. In 2012, MAS engaged planning, preservation, and development practitioners to explore ways to maintain East Midtown as not only the city’s premier business district, but as a vital, working neighborhood. This effort culminated in the report, East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future, issued by MAS in February 2013, which laid out a framework for reinvigorating the area’s public realm, improving transit infrastructure, encouraging a vibrant mix of uses, protecting the area’s valuable historic resources, and fostering forward thinking sustainable design.

MAS and many other stakeholders found the 2013 East Midtown rezoning proposal to be deficient in achieving critical goals, and it was later withdrawn. Mayor de Blasio then formed the East Midtown Steering Committee, including MAS, to spearhead a stakeholder-driven effort. In October 2015, the Steering Committee issued its Final Report including recommendations that by and large frame the current Greater East Midtown Proposal.

MAS recognizes that the primary goal of the current proposal is to incentivize significant expansion of commercial office space to maintain the area’s viability as New York’s premier business district and retain its tax base. We also acknowledge the complexity of the project, as well as the effort by the city to foster and incorporate stakeholder input.

The 3D web map provides relevant property information for buildings within the proposed rezoning boundaries. Projected and potential development sites are highlighted in red and blue (sites show existing bulk under current zoning regulations – not proposed).

Supertalls are highlighted in orange (most are being constructed as-of-right and are independent to the rezoning process).

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Monument of the Month: Die Lorelei

Thirty years ago, The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) launched the Adopt-A-Monument program in collaboration with the NYC Public Design Commission and the NYC Parks Department, to secure private funding for the rescue of public art in danger of deterioration. This program, and the subsequent Adopt-A-Mural Program (begun in 1991), preserve the extraordinary legacy of public art that MAS helped initiate at the turn of the 20th century.

The Heinrich Heine Fountain ("Die Lorelei") by Ernest Herter, 1899, Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx

The Heinrich Heine Fountain (“Die Lorelei”) by Ernest Herter was constructed in 1899 in Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx. It was restored in 1999 through MAS’ Adopt-A-Monument program.

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Action Alert: 175th Street Loew’s Wonder Theatre

We Need Your Help to Save a Treasure of Washington Heights!

Last month, the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre – the last of New York’s five gilded age Wonder Theaters – received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, putting it one step closer to landmark designation after more than 45 years in limbo.

But we have just learned from our colleagues at the Historic Districts Council that the local Council Member for the 10th district, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, plans to rescind his support for designating the theater. Without his vote, the designation will almost surely fail to pass the City Council.

interior of the ornate 145th Street Loews Wonder Theatre

The 145th Street Loews Wonder Theatre

Please call Council Member Rodriguez this week and tell him that the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre must be protected as a New York City landmark.

MAS supported the designation of the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre when the Landmarks Preservation Commission first reviewed it in 1970, and again in 2015 (see “Testimony” below). A “delirious masterpiece” in words of the New York Times, the theater’s exuberant, eclectic style incorporates both Hindu and Islamic design in a free interpretation iconic to this period of theater design.

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