A long anticipated zoning proposal will be going before the New York City Council within the coming weeks, shaking up some of the most active, most historic parts of Midtown Manhattan – the area and the historic buildings around Grand Central Terminal. The Historical Districts Council has identified buildings that they feel should be exempted from redevelopment or reconstruction in the neighborhood, if the area does see a change in zoning.
The “Midtown East” rezoning plan, supported by the Bloomberg Administration and commerce associations, aims to redevelop older buildings to increase floor space and ceiling heights. The rezoning plan would almost double the amount of triple-A NYC office space available in Midtown East by allowing buildings to raise ceilings and widen their footprint. Proponents of the plan claim it’s a necessary measure so that office spaces can be changed to suit demand – the open floorplan favored by many companies requires more space, and technical infrastructure requires higher ceilings. The rezoning plan would allow these buildings to be renovated or updated to meet the office space needs of today’s companies.
But the need for offices for lease in New York City shouldn’t mean giving up critical pieces of the city’s history. “The blend of new and old is what keeps New York vital and unique. That principle should be a starting point for revitalizing this significant area, not an afterthought as it is presented.” is the argument of Andrea Goldwyn, leader of the NY Landmarks Conservancy. Some of the buildings that they seek to protect include the Graybar Building, The Lexington Hotel and the Union Carbide building.
Many other areas of Manhattan have seen incredibly growth in terms of office space available – with the opening of World Trade Center One, and the new development of the Hudson Yards project. But, advocates argue that “new office product is needed in Midtown Manhattan” – replacing the old with the new. Ideally, both sides will come to an agreement which preserves the city’s glorious history while providing modern working spaces.