November 2017
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Commission Certifies City’s East Midtown Proposal

The NYC Planning Commission certified the City’s proposed zoning strategy meant to encourage the development of taller, more modern office buildings throughout a 78 block section of East Midtown. The certification launches the City’s formal landuse review process. Over the next 160 days affected Manhattan Community Boards, the Manhattan Borough President and the City Planning Commission will develop their position on the proposal, which will then head to City Council for a final vote.

The City has made minor modifications to their plan first announced last summer. One modification would require new buildings to outperform the city’s current energy conservation codes. While MAS commends this revision, a principle proposed in the MAS report: “East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future,” released in February, the City’s overall strategy continues to ignore the many factors that need to be in place in order to ensure the future success of this crucial business district.

MAS believes the City’s strategy should not be so narrowly focused on the development of Class A office space. Increasing density around a major transit hub is a good development strategy; however other elements such as infrastructure and public realm improvements must be made to ensure the neighborhood, already one of the densest in the city, does not become overwhelmed by the onset of development.

Esteemed architect Robert A.M. Stern eloquently describes what it means to properly plan for density in a recent New York Time’s article, stating that “… the advantages of density can go only so far without the infrastructure to support it. And the appropriateness of tall buildings is a question of where and when, and what they contribute to the public realm.”

As a city famous for its lively street life and unique public realm, this issue cannot be ignored. MAS will continue to advocate for a better Midtown in the coming months. Please continue to check mas.org for future updates.