Panel backs mayor's midtown rezone proposal

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The City Planning Commission Monday backed the Bloomberg administration’s plan to rezone 73 blocks in midtown east to allow for larger, modern skyscrapers.

The commission voted 11-0 with one recusal and one abstention to send the plan to the City Council, which will have the final say on the rezoning.

“If we are to continue to have a world-class district with top-tier state of the art office space, we need to change the zoning, but carefully,” said Amanda Burden, chair of the City Planning Commission, in a statement.

The mayor’s office pushed the proposal to encourage developers to build denser and larger developments around the Grand Central Terminal area, which has been under a more restrictive zoning code since the 1980s.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has lauded the plan as way to finance street-level and transit improvements by requiring developers to pay $250 for each square foot of commercial space.

Bloomberg later said the city would front the money. The MTA estimated that transit improvements could cost between $350 to $500 million.

Under changes the City Planning Commission made to the plan, developers can devote 20% of a new building to residential and hotel space and must provide the MTA easements if necessary for access to transit facilities.

Lola Finkelstein, chair of a multi-community board task force on the plan, and one of its critics, lamented that the rezoning was being pushed through without a comprehensive plan to accommodate new workers and commuters.

“The funding that the mayor has repeatedly said would be there is just a statement that there will be funding. But there are no specifics, there are no details,” Finkelstein said.

Tags: news , midtown , bloomberg , rivoli , grand central

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