New York Mayor Bloomberg is brewing up arguments as he rushes to rezone more than 70 blocks of midtown before he leaves office.
If he gets his way, New York’s skyline will look vastly different, and the city’s subways will be even more stuffed.
Bloomberg’s proposal is backed by the real estate industry, as it would allow property owners in and around Grand Central Terminal and along Madison and Park Avenues to replace their buildings with skyscrapers, some as tall as the Empire State Building.
It would build up the city’s skyline and add thousands of new commuters to the area, a neighborhood where transit stations are already overcrowded.
The plan has many citizens and community leaders angered, especially because he is trying to rush a decision.
“The future of New York is too valuable to be rushed for political timetables,” Wally Rubin, district manager of Manhattan Community Board 5, said.
“The rezoning of Hudson Yards (on Manhattan’s far West Side) took five years of public discussion. This is far bigger and even more important.”
Officials claim developers will pay big money to build higher, and that the money will provide the means to improve the 42nd St. and 53rd St. subway stations and neighborhood streets.
Bloomberg’s aides said the area needs to be rebuilt to attain competitiveness with other global financial centers, like Hong Kong and London.
The City Planning Commission will reveal its proposal in April, which will start the required six-month review process ending in a final vote by City Council in October.
Dan Garodnick, neighborhood councilman, said even if they believe the subway will be improved by the plan, there is no guarantee it will happen as developer payments will be spread out over many years.
“We need a financial commitment from the city to those improvements as a precondition,” Garodnick said.
Leaders also want answers about why the city proposed a flat price of $250 per square foot for new air rights along the 70-block area.
“That goes against the real estate principle that price depends on location, location, location,” Rubin said.
“If Bloomberg is going to move full throttle ahead, then the Council will amend it appropriately if we need to.”