Rezoning Midtown East would mean taller skyscrapers

Many would argue Midtown Manhattan is the most congested part of New York City. But on the east side of Midtown, Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents the area and is on the council's land use committee, is also on a steering committee to oversee a rezoning proposal. If passed, it would change the zoning rules from 39th Street to 57th Street from 3rd Avenue to Madison Avenue. Basically, the rezoning would give building owners permission to expand.

"Midtown East has gotten stuck in recent years due to outdated, antiquated zoning rules, which have created a disincentive for anybody to develop anything in this very important commercial core of New York City," Garodnick said.

But expansion and higher buildings most likely mean more people and more crowding. The first phase of this project was to rezone a small area of Vanderbilt Avenue near Grand Central. That proposal passed in 2015, and construction has already begun.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer worked with Garodnick to shape the Midtown East proposal. She wants to stress that the city pays nothing for changing zoning rules. In fact, the city would get paid. The proposal would mandate that developers who expand their buildings would then have to put money into landmark preservation, the creation of open space, or subways.

"Of course, in general, you have to fix the signal system, but those subways are busy and they need more funding," Brewer said. "So we absolutely agree, if you're going to have more workers with taller buildings, you darn well better fix up the subway."

The city has already submitted a rezoning proposal for the second phase of the project, which the City Council will vote on sometime this summer. If it passes, the new zoning rules would go into effect immediately.