East Midtown Rezoning Plan by Armaan Bahl

For a few years now, city officials have felt the need to rezone a section of east midtown spanning from 38th street to 58th street bounded by 5th ave on the west and 2nd ave. on the east. This central business district includes Grand Central Terminal as well as some iconic office towers such as the Lever house and Seagram building. Currently each plot in this area has a certain allowable building density (the maximum space that can be built) which depends on various factors such as the width of the road adjoining the plot and the plot size itself. Most plots in the area are fully built up or overbuilt. The plan is to give the owners of these plots greater development rights in exchange for investment into public infrastructure projects. The current building stock is considered sub optimal and old especially when compared to the shiny new office towers going up a few avenues west at Hudson Yards. Therefore, for the area to stay competitive as a business district, redevelopment of existing buildings must occur. To incentivize said redevelopment and for it to be feasible considering the rising costs of construction, a significant amount of air rights must be distributed. The city too has a vested interest in having the area remain a business district and not turn into another residential neighborhood. The city has invested significantly in transport projects to service the area, most prominently the second avenue subway which is currently under construction. In order to fully maximize the economic benefit of these expensive public works projects, big companies and employers must have offices in the area. To attract such company’s, developers must create state of the art office space which can only be incentivized through significant building density allowances.