Since Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed zoning changes meant to spur the modernization of East Midtown, MAS has been actively seeking ways to help ensure the future vitality of this important neighborhood. The proposed upzoning—affecting the area located roughly between 39th Street to 57th Street from 5th Avenue to 3rd Avenue—would allow the development of some of the largest buildings in New York City, transforming both the skyline and city streets.
To help ensure that the East Midtown neighborhood—already one of the densest in the city—does not become overwhelmed by the onset of new development MAS issued, “East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future,” a report developed after months of research and dialogue with area stakeholders, city officials, preservationists and planning professionals. The report lays out a comprehensive framework for the neighborhood’s future including recommendations for infrastructure and public realm improvements, the preservation of important historic resources and the need to set high standards for design and sustainability.
Earlier this year MAS commissioned the Environmental Simulation Center to illustrate how the height of the new buildings the City is hoping to see realized around Grand Central Terminal will impact this iconic neighborhood.
MAS has long played an essential role in the story of Grand Central. In the 1970s along with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, MAS helped prevent the demolition of the Terminal, thus upholding the tenets of the 1965 Landmarks Law. MAS continues to act as steward of the Terminal and its surroundings in order to help East Midtown remain one of the world’s most desirable business addresses.
Rethinking East Midtown
The current re-thinking of East Midtown comes at a particularly unique moment as 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal- one of the world’s most active transit hubs and celebrated public spaces. Although the neighborhood surrounding the Terminal is home to first-rate architecture, such as the celebrated Lever House (1952) and the Seagram Building (1958), the neighborhood’s public realm – the streets, sidewalks, open spaces and underground passageways– has been neglected.
To help re-think this neighborhood’s public realm, MAS spearheaded The Next 100, which brought together three distinguished architecture firms – Foster + Partners, SOM, and WXY – to re-think the public spaces in and around the Terminal. Their exciting new ideas and inspired visions were presented at the 2012 MAS Summit for New York City.
The City also responded to calls from Council Member Daniel Garodnick, Manhattan community boards, MAS and others for public space improvements by releasing Places for People: A Public Realm Vision Plan for East Midtown, a proposal commissioned by the NYC Department of Transportation and the Department of City Planning. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel announced the report produced by Jonathan Rose Companies, Gehl Architects and Skanska at the 2013 MAS Summit for New York City. The report includes ideas generated at three public workshops, and identifies priorities for enhancing East Midtown’s streetscapes and public spaces.
As the rezoning proposal now enters the final stages of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), MAS continues to advocate for a more comprehensive, forward-thinking vision for North America’s most significant central business district. We encourage the New York City Council to help ensure that plans for this neighborhood strive to achieve a more sustainable, livable and forward looking New York City.