Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to rezone East Midtown in Manhattan ended abruptly this month when the Mayor withdrew the ambitious and controversial redevelopment proposal before a City Council vote.
East Midtown covers roughly 78 blocks from Second Avenue on the east to Fifth Avenue on the west, and from 57th Street on the north to 39th street on the south. It is one of the most densely packed sections of the city and eighty percent of the buildings there are more than fifty years old.
Laura Kusisto, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, told MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman that lingering questions over air rights and an unresolved deal with hotel workers caused City Council leaders to back away from the proposal.
“This is one of the very few times that a major land use project by a mayor has been killed,” Kusisto said.
She also said this may be a message to the real estate community as Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio gets ready to take office in January.
“The real estate community did pretty well under Bloomberg,” Kusisto said. “He pushed through a lot of rezonings that had opposition in the community but were good at generating real estate development, economic activity and I think there was sort of a message that we the community, we the City Council are going to drive a harder bargain in the future.”
The Bloomberg Administration had argued that the rezoning would bring needed commercial investment to the city. The Mayor said ending the rezoning plan would “cost the area hundreds of millions of dollars in badly needed subway and street improvements and $1 billion in additional tax revenue – as well as tens of thousands of new jobs that would have been created.”
Mayor-elect de Blasio issued a press release saying he would present a revised plan for the East Midtown area by the end of 2014.