NEW YORK | Midtown East

Midtown East Rezoning

Mayor Bloomberg’s Proposal:

Mayor De Blasio:

Slow changes coming to midtown east

The midtown east rezoning won’t be happening any time soon.

JUNE 1, 2014 12:01 A.M.
Photo: Buck Ennis

Mayor Bill de Blasio has reset the clock on the midtown east rezoning. But don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

After community groups scuttled the Bloomberg administration’s plan to rezone a roughly 70-block swath of midtown late last year, Mr. de Blasio promised to restart the process as soon as possible. But even while promising a new timeline, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said, “It’s not the No. 1 thing we’re working on right now.”

The rezoning aims to swap out the area’s aging office buildings with state-of-the-art skyscrapers.

As such, the new plan will happen piecemeal. First, a small stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue to the west of Grand Central Terminal will be rezoned starting this fall to allow at least one developer, SL Green Realty Corp., to build a 65-story tower, including public plazas and underground passages to the subway. The rest of the rezoning won’t be completed until early 2016.

City officials say the key difference between this plan and the Bloomberg administration’s is transportation improvements, the cost of which will be borne by private developers. SL Green has already agreed to spend $100 million on infrastructure, and the city says it expects much more. Other sizable projects would also be expected to pay similar amounts before getting the green light to build from Mr. de Blasio.

SL Green, City Square Off With Argent at Community Board

By Tobias Salinger on November 26, 2014 3:00PM
A rendering of 1 Vanderbilt from Bryant Park. (Kohn Pedersen & Fox)

…City officials and SL Green Realty Corp. executives argued for the proposed 1 Vanderbilt tower and the five-block Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning during a three-hour Uniform Land Use Review Procedure hearing before Manhattan Community Boards 5 and 6 last Monday night.

But representatives for Grand Central Terminal landlord Argent Ventures reiterated their staunch opposition to the proposal, which would rezone Vanderbilt Avenue between East 42nd and East 47th Streets and grant SL Green a special permit to build the 1,514-foot tower, during the session.

Despite Argent executives’ criticisms, Department of City Planning Chairman Carl Weisbrod said the process of creating a larger Midtown East rezoning plan has “shifted into high gear” and called on the boards to recommend approval.

…“Every day I talk to potential tenants who want to be in Midtown, but they can’t find the Class A property that they need,” Mr. Holliday said. “If we want this city to compete, it’s clear we need more than just repositioned buildings.”

But Argent Director of Development Eric Anderson gave a presentation of his own, in which he called the Vanderbilt Corridor plan “spot zoning” in light of the larger goals for the Midtown East area. He also questioned whether TD Bank’s new 200,000-square-foot lease at 1 Vanderbilt actually constitutes an anchor tenant agreement in the proposed 1.6-million-square-foot tower. Despite city officials’ contention that the plan enhances the Grand Central landlords’ ability to sell the terminal’s unused air rights, Mr. Anderson said the proposal “devastates our ability to transfer” and drew comparisons to last year’s Midtown East proposal.

The two community boards must make a recommendation on the proposal by Dec. 29, according to the DCP website, before it moves to review by the borough president, the City Planning Commission and its final up-or-down vote in the City Council. Once at the Council, local Council Member Daniel Garodnick will, in all likelihood, dictate how his fellow lawmakers vote on the rezoning because it’s in his district. The second-term Council Member helped to derail last year’s plan; although he praised many parts of this proposal, he stopped short of offering his full support.

“This project will be pointed to as a precedent,” Mr. Garodnick said. “We need to clearly justify the trade of infrastructure of any density so that it may be used as a roadmap for ourselves and for our successors in evaluating the next proposal on Vanderbilt Avenue.

Savanna’s Chris Schlank on Making Class B Buildings a Thing of Beauty

By Danielle Sschlanger on November 26, 2014 11:30AM
Savanna founder and managing partner Chris Schlank. (Adam Jones/for Commercial Observer)

What do you think commercial real estate is going to look like in five, 10 years?

I don’t know. What interests me the most, there are two things: The Plaza District and Park Avenue and then Hudson Yards—there’s a tidal shift going west. So I want to know in five years, what is Park Avenue going to look like?

It’s not very cool to be on Park Avenue these days.

No. No one wants to be here. We rented this space in December for 70 bucks a foot. We rented to Twitter [in Chelsea] mid-block for $72. We’re getting more on West 17th Street mid-block than Park Avenue’s getting. And all the big companies want to go to Hudson Yards. New, efficient, great floor plates, blah, blah, blah. The biggest question is, “What’s going to happen?”

Do you think it’s the time to invest in Midtown East?

The problem with buyers in Midtown is that Midtown is controlled by large, well-capitalized owners. They don’t sell. They’re not going to sell for distressed. That’s the beauty of buying in Chelsea [and] Midtown South. You have smaller owners who are not as well-capitalized and who own their real estate for very little and see the upside.

Vanderbilt corridor set for massive new tower

By Lois Weiss on March 3, 2015 | 10:44pm

The Vanderbilt corridor may be getting a new tower on a site no one expected to be redeveloped so fast.

Shrewd Howard Milstein is now focusing on designing and developing a completely new modern tower at 335 Madison Ave. that would take advantage of the new Vanderbilt corridor zoning boost, The Post has learned.

To those of you who can’t make heads or tails out of taking down a 1.1 million square-foot tower from 1984 for a slightly larger one, think again.

Some sources have indicated that Milstein, harkening back to its location and history, would like to include a “high end” hotel as part of the new plans.

The 1984 tower was actually a stealthy redevelopment of the 1913-era Biltmore Hotel that the Milstein family started razing before preservationists could react.

The hotel had Turkish baths in its basement, its own corridor from Grand Central to the meet-up spot known as the “Kissing Room,” winter skating on its gardened roof and plenty of notable restaurants like the Palm and the Cascades, along with glamorous public areas that attracted celebrities and politicians.

Designed by Warren & Wetmore, its steel “bones” were reused by the Milsteins to support the shiny new granite walls — essentially putting lipstick on an old sow.

My Post colleague, Steve Cuozzo, claims “the worst insult was that Milstein installed the famous Biltmore lobby clock in the sterile office building lobby, where it looks like a captured artifact of a vanquished race.”

The building was reworked prior to the 1992 rezoning that allowed the entirely new nearby 383 Madison with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 21.6.

The Vanderbilt corridor proposal that is nearly through the city planning process, would allow a building of 30 FAR with various bonuses.


LPC Earmarks 12 Midtown East Buildings As Part of Neighborhood Revitalization

Includes the Graybar Building, the Pershing Square Building, and the Yale Club of New York among others

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has identified 12 buildings in Midtown East, including the Graybar Building and the Pershing Square Building, to be potentially landmarked in the future. It’s part of the agency’s move to provide greater protection to historic buildings in the neighborhood.

In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio created the East Midtown Steering Committee to tackle a series of goals for the neighborhood including density, sustainability, and historic preservation. That’s where the LPC comes into the mix.

The agency studied the area known as Greater East Midtown, which spans East 39th to East 57th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Second Avenue. And through that study the LPC identified three eras of development — buildings constructed prior to the existence of the Grand Central Terminal (pre-GCT), those built during its construction or soon after, and finally, those that were built after 1933 (post–GCT).

Buildings were then selected from each era and calendared to be considered at a future date. Most of the ones chosen including the Graybar Building and the Pershing Square Building were from the Grand Central Terminal era, when construction was spurred by improvements in transit.

“Greater East Midtown has always been the commercial center of New York, and its authenticity and dynamism largely derive from the textured coexistence of historic buildings and new construction,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chair of the LPC, said in a press release. “Our challenge was to conceptualize a preservation strategy to protect a collection of significant buildings that, together, establish a historical narrative that will continue to be legible amidst future change.”

East Midtown already has 38 individual landmarks and one historic district, and landmarking the 12 selected buildings could potentially bring that up to 50. Some of the other buildings under consideration include the Hampton Shops Building, the Yale Club of New York, and the Shelton and Beverly Hotels.

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any news on this?

Can we expect this to happen? What will the impact be? When would this be finalized?


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Midtown East Landmarking Proposal Riles Preservationists, Transportation Advocates

The Pershing Square Building is the main point of contention

City releases long-awaited plan to spur office development in midtown east

The rezoning proposal would allow taller buildings to be constructed near to Grand Central Terminal

The city quietly published on Monday its plan to allow bigger and more modern office towers in midtown east—the first step in the formal rezoning of the neighborhood.

The long-awaited midtown east proposal would allow the tallest buildings to be erected right next to Grand Central Terminal, increasing the current permitted maximum density by about 30%.

“This would be the highest as-of-right density allowance in the east midtown subdistrict, reflecting the [city’s] planning policy of focusing density in areas with excellent access to transit,” wrote the Department of City Planning in documents posted on its website.

Though the rezoning has been a major focus of developers and planners for years, becoming at one point a priority of the Bloomberg administration, the planning department did not publicize the publication of its latest planning documents. It was unclear why that was the case, considering a rezoning would be worth billions of dollars in construction and real estate spending as developers knock down small buildings to erect soaring glass and steel office towers.

Buildings along Park Avenue and near subway stations farther north in the district, which encompasses the area bounded by East 39th and East 57th streets to the north and south, and Madison Avenue and Third Avenue to the east and west, would also receive a significant boost, while properties located on streets farther from transit would have smaller maximum densities.

The proposal would allow owners of landmarked buildings in the district to sell air rights across the district, rather than just adjacent to their properties, as currently allowed. Building owners who wish to achieve the maximum allowable densities would need to contribute financially to improving the area’s transit infrastructure or purchase air rights from landmarked properties in the area.

Over the coming decades, the city predicts the rezoning would result in the creation of 16 new towers, which translates into an additional 6.6 million square feet of office space with 26,507 workers. Currently midtown east consists of 70 million square feet of office space, less than 5% was built within the past two decades.

The planning documents, called a draft scope of work, are the first step in formally recasting the neighborhood. A public meeting to review the documents, which will then be used to study the potential effects of the rezoning on the surrounding environment, is scheduled for Sept. 22. The rezoning is the second attempt at promoting the development of new office towers in midtown east after a Bloomberg-era plan was killed in 2013.

Two years later, the city rezoned a handful of blocks west of Grand Central called the Vanderbilt Corridor, which is where SL Green Realty is currently building 1 Vanderbilt. That same year, a steering committee chaired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilman Daniel Garodnick came up with recommendations on how to modify the rezoning in the rest of the district. Many of those recommendations made their way into the city’s plan released earlier this week.

“We need to ensure that east midtown continues to lead as a premier business district—and that means delivering better mass transit, pedestrian areas that are safe and welcoming, and high quality commercial space,” Garodnick said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the administration to achieve those goals in this plan.”

With these changes, could we potentially see 600 meters towers?

kinda doubt it, but who knows, I just don’t see how a 30% increase would give them enough FAR to go 600m. Hoping this means 300m-400m is easily doable now though. With maybe a clever dev getting to 450m-500m.

Greater East Midtown Rezoning Draft Scope (8/2016)

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so they are proposing to change it depending on geography to 18 to 27 FAR.

Those at the 27 FAR range would be able to easily hit 1100-1200 foot range (One Vandy is 30 FAR for instance).

Hopefully the 27 FAR sites can be stacked with rights transfers to go up to say 35 FAR. 35 FAR on a full block site would be able to get you to 600m I think.

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That’s a great point that you mention, but I just don’t see it in the near future that any building in NYC will reach a greater height than that of, one world trade center’s 1,776 feet or 541 meters.

ya, even with 35 far on a full block you are gonna need some spire help to make 600m. But I think if someone really wanted to do it, they could. Right now it is basically impossible in most places to do it.

Even if we can get a couple of 500 meter to the roof towers that would be a win! That’s well over 1600 feet.

When asked if he foresaw the Farley project as competition for Midtown East, Weisbrod said that because of its size, density and transit, the neighborhood is the most important of the city’s three major front office business districts (Hudson Yards, Midtown East and the World Trade Center).

East Midtown rezoning plan might finally happen

It’s Z-Day for East Midtown. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the proposal to rezone the iconic but declining Grand Central-area office district, which is expected to begin the city’s formal land-use review process on Tuesday…


midtown east in its heyday, 30s-70s. Photos Retrieved from

Photo by: Rockefeller Center Studio. Source: “New York Illustrated” (New York. Manhattan Post Card Publishing Co. 1938).

Photo by Photo: Louis B. Schlivek. Source: Rai Y. Okamoto, Frank E. Williams and Et Al. “Urban Design Manhattan. Regional Plan Association” (New York, The Viking Press, 1969).

Owen Thomas. “El Mundo en Color”. (México, Organización Editorial Novaro, 1967).

Mary Moore Mason. “The Picture Book of the U.S.A. In Color” (New York. Diadem Books, 1974).


Midtown needs a new streetscape. They should close two lanes of every avenue and widen the sidewalks and landscape them like Mich Ave in Chicago.

This will never occur because NY oppose any change, even if it’s for the better.

Janet Kahn’s proposal to do this on Fifth Ave would be a great start.