Editorial: Take care in building anew near Grand Central
Bloomberg administration plans for a skyscraper build-out in the area called "Midtown East" took a welcome step forward last week. The city's Independent Budget Office said the upzoning -- in a 73-block area surrounding Grand Central Terminal -- would not jeopardize public projects like Hudson Yards on the West Side or the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
The city will need to add about 52 million square feet of office space through 2040, the budget office estimated. The Midtown East rezoning can help meet that goal by permitting construction of about two dozen new towers.
A City Council vote is expected in November on the zoning change. Hope that it wins approval.
Our competitors in venues like London and Tokyo are already at work -- building the kind of environmentally sustainable, state-of-the-art office towers with open floor plans and modern wiring that major employers want.
New York has some catching up to do.
The average age of Midtown East's building stock is 70 years and the district has seen the construction of just two new office towers in the last decade.
True, no one can precisely predict the city's demand for commercial office space in 2040. Some companies have cut back on sprawling office spreads lately. The national economy could always take a game-changing dive. Technology could further revolutionize the way we live and work in unforeseen ways.
But the view of the future we have at the moment says we'll need more office space, and the time to build is now.
The Second Avenue subway must proceed with even more urgency if the city decides to increase population density in Midtown East. The East Side IRT is painfully overcrowded. The Long Island Rail Road will be rolling into Grand Central within a decade. Relief is mandatory.
Historic buildings must be kept safe from the wrecking ball, and human-scale amenities must flourish in tandem with new towers. New office canyons alone aren't enough.
But in the end, we can't ignore the needs of tomorrow.