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MAP: Developers Could Sponsor These Subway Projects Under Midtown Rezoning

By Noah Hurowitz | January 9, 2017 10:29am | Updated on January 10, 2017 5:28pm
 The city has released a list of projects that developers could sponsor under the East Midtown Rezoning, which will affect the area of Midtown surrounding Grand Central Terminal.
The city has released a list of projects that developers could sponsor under the East Midtown Rezoning, which will affect the area of Midtown surrounding Grand Central Terminal.
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MIDTOWN — The city has unveiled a list of possible public-transit improvement projects that could be written into the zoning amendment for a special Midtown district as part of the planned Greater East Midtown Rezoning effort.

A draft of the plan, under which developers would sponsor projects in exchange for height and density bonuses on new construction sites in the neighborhood, lists 24 possible projects that include expanded disability accessibility, widened staircases and platforms at six subway stations in Midtown, as well as new street entrances, according to documents released last week.

See Also: Here's What You Need to Know About the Greater East Midtown Rezoning

Among the 24 listed projects, which the Department of City Planning drafted in conjunction with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, are a new entrance at East 60th Street for the Lexington Avenue - 59th Street stop; a wholesale renovation of the Lexington Avenue mezzanine at Grand Central Terminal; and increased disability access to multiple levels of the Fifth Ave - 53rd Street station.

The rezoning plan, which entered the uniform land-use review process, or ULURP, last week, is an effort by the city to encourage development of new office buildings in an area of eastern Midtown near Grand Central Terminal.

The rezoning plan calls for increased as-of-right density allowances for developers who contribute to public works projects in three possible ways: sponsoring one of the transit projects, buying development rights from adjacent landmark sites and contributing 20 percent of the sale of those air rights to a public-improvement fund, or by building plazas and other publicly accessible areas into new buildings.

It is somewhat modeled after the Vanderbilt Corridor rezoning, which allowed developer SL Green to begin building itsexpected 1,401-foot office tower OneVanderbilt in exchange for a round of transit upgrades at Grand Central.

But whereas SL Green had to undergo a specific ULURP for its density bonuses, the transit projects would be written into the zoning amendment so that developers may choose a project to sponsor without having to undergo an individual ULURP for each project, the typical procedure by which developers get extra height or density on a project that exceeds the allowed density for a neighborhood.

The most significant density and height bonuses would come via the transit improvement projects, which include the following stations:

►Lexington Avenue - 53rd Street and 51st Street (E,M,6)
►Lexington Avenue - 59th Street (N,R,4,5,6)
►Fifth Avenue - 53rd Street (E,M)
►Rockefeller Center - 47th-50th Street (B,D,F,M)
►Bryant Park - Fifth Avenue (B,D,F,M,7)
►Grand Central (4,5,6,7,S)

In an effort to hold developers to their promises, the Department of Buildings will not issue a certificate of occupancy for new buildings until the transit upgrades are finished, according to the rezoning proposal.

The plan, which proponents have touted as being a way to increase development in Midtown while ensuring an infusion of cash for public works projects, is currently in the community board review stage of the public review process. In mid-March it will go before the Borough President for review, followed by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

If passed, it would affect a 78-block area of Midtown bound roughly by 57th Street to the north, 39th Street to the south, Third Avenue to the east, and Madison Avenue to the west.