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Looking Forward on East Midtown

By Eugenie L. Birch, Chair and Vin Cipolla, President, MAS

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Last week, in a rare joint statement, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council member Daniel Garodnick rejected the Mayor’s plan to rezone East Midtown. The Bloomberg administration subsequently withdrew the proposal.  So now what does the future of Midtown hold?  The answer remains to be seen – but as has become clear over the course of the last year there is work to be done to ensure that East Midtown continues to be an economic engine for New York City.

To their credit, the Bloomberg administration and the various participants in the months-long debate about the rezoning have raised very important questions. Collectively, they have highlighted East Midtown’s shortcomings: new modern building stock is needed; its public realm needs to be reimagined; key landmarks are unprotected; and plans for accommodating an anticipated influx of commuters with the opening of East Side Access are inadequate.

MAS looks forward to working with our newly elected public officials, especially Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President-elect Gale Brewer, along with Council member Daniel Garodnick, the community boards and the many stakeholders who have been active participants in the last few months to keep the momentum going on this important initiative.

From the beginning of this process, well over 18 months ago, MAS has been consistent in its advocacy: Midtown needs to be a 21st century district – but competing on the global stage requires more than encouraging larger buildings.

To create a district which will drive our economy forward we must plan for much needed investment in our infrastructure and public realm, preserve the key buildings that define East Midtown, and encourage new buildings that deserve to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Chrysler building and Grand Central.

These and other recommendations are detailed in MAS’ East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future, released in February 2013.  The report has been viewed over 25,000 times and offers a clear and specific plan for the future of East Midtown.

This has been a busy time here at MAS.  Over the past 18 months, MAS has:

Our bottom line has always been that if we can focus on improving the experience of the hundreds of thousands of people who work, live in, and visit Midtown every day, then we will truly be creating the conditions for New York City’s long term well-being and growth. With your help, we’ll complete a new plan for the future of Midtown in 2014. We’re ready to get back to work.