Posts tagged with "NYC Department of City Planning":

Placeholder Alt Text

Midtown East rezoning proposal one step closer to final approval

The rezoning of Midtown East in New York City is one step closer to approval after the latest proposal was presented at yesterday’s City Council meeting, although not without significant opposition from the public. The rezoning proposal has made an arduous, five-year-long journey with support and roadblocks along the way. The Department of City Planning (DCP) has pushed the proposal forward, claiming that it will incentivize the development of new office buildings, preserve landmarked buildings, and improve the public realm in the area. The designated site runs from 39th Street to 57th Street and is bordered by Madison Avenue from the west and 3rd Avenue from the east. With Hudson Yards luring away businesses and the Financial District offering newer buildings with larger floor space, the DCP has primarily made it their goal to make the proposed Midtown East sub-district area a premier business area. If this latest proposal passes, it would add a potential 16 new developments in the area and allow developers to build up to 40 percent taller and bulkier than is currently permitted in Midtown. In exchange, they would be required to either complete improvements to below-grade transit infrastructure (i.e. improve major subway stations), rebuild legally overbuilt floor areas of pre-1961 buildings, or if they transfer landmark development rights, pay a minimum contribution ($78.60 per square foot) to a public realm fund. “We expect hundreds of millions of dollars to go into this fund,” DCP’s Director Edith Hsu-Chen said. The fund is expected to improve aboveground infrastructure, including widening pedestrian streets and creating shared streets. Another part of the proposal includes the Pfizer headquarters building. Since it was built before the 1961 Zoning plan, it will automatically get a free density boost of floor area ratio (FAR) 10 to FAR 15 and possibly incentivize the pharmaceutical company to sell the building and leave the city, as The Real Deal reports. While infrastructure improvements to subway stations were applauded (especially concerning the latest MTA woes), concerns were expressed from councilmembers about the transparency of the use of the public realm funds and whether developers could “game the system,” according to Councilman Daniel Garodnick, a long-time supporter of the proposal. Other questions raised included the potential—and highly likely—increased traffic in the 116 traffic intersections that will be affected, the increased shadows overcast, as well as the lack of new public space, which has been an issue for many of the proposal’s opponents. Since developers are already gaining extra FAR from contributing to the public fund, they do not have to take part in the POPS (Privately Owned Public Spaces) program, a voluntary zoning mechanism where developers get more floor space by building a public space. The meeting saw many community members pushback against rezoning without the mandatory inclusion of open, public space. “What remains to be determined, after all this time, is what the public will be receiving,” said a representative for Vikki Barbera, chair of Community Board 5. “Open space is not some optional amenity, it is essential for all good planning.” The City Council will meet later this month to vote on the latest proposal.
Placeholder Alt Text

Changes to this obscure rule could leave Midtown East streets shrouded in shadow

The streets of Midtown East could get a whole lot darker thanks to changes in a little-known equation (outside of architecture, anyway) used to calculate shadows cast by tall buildings.

The city is looking to change a method developers use to calculate how much sunlight a building will obscure once it tops off. Crain's reports that the Waldram diagram, as it's called, will be toggled to encourage taller buildings in Midtown East as part of that neighborhood's anticipated rezoning.

To illuminate city streets and sidewalks that snake through urban canyons, the formula dictates that building taper sharply as they reach towards the sky. Typically, when architects build tall, they are presented with two options: They can create classic, "wedding cake" style buildings with tiered setbacks aligned to the zoning, or they can use calculations like the Waldram formula to attain a smoother, graduated facade. Due to building codes that require multiple stairwells and additional smoke ventilation shafts, building tall becomes less efficient (i.e. more costly) as skyscrapers butt up against building codes and the formula, which applies in Midtown only.

The city is hoping that the rezoning will spur the development of more Class A office space in the 73-block district, which is losing potential tenants attracted to towers in the Financial District with larger floor plates. Consequently, proposed changes will permit towers up to 40 percent taller—and bulkier—than those currently allowed.

The Department of City Planning (DCP) estimated that the rezoning will lead to the construction of a few new towers, so it's unlikely that the entirety of Midtown East will be shrouded in perma-dusk in the future.

Placeholder Alt Text

Carl Weisbrod steps down as director of Department of City Planning

Carl Weisbrod has stepped down as the director of Department of City Planning and Chair of City Planning Commission to become the Chair of the Trust for Governor’s Island. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Marisa Lago will replace him. Weisbrod, 72, who lives on Roosevelt Island and has been in public service for over 40 years, is best-known as the guy who helped clean up Times Square and rid it of its sex industry. He also oversaw the rebuilding of the World Trade Center after September 11 and oversaw the comprehensive citywide rezoning that passed last year. Lago, 61, is currently an assistant secretary for international markets and development at the Treasury. According to The New York Times, she worked with Weisbrod during the administration of Mayor David N. Dinkins. She will take over as chairwoman of the planning department in March. Lago has been described as “tireless champion for the world’s poorest,” by Jacob J. Lew, the secretary of the Treasury, and says that she will focus on neighborhood development and “inclusionary,” or affordable, housing. “This has been a great run for me,” Mr. Weisbrod told the Times. “I sometimes can’t really even contemplate how lucky I’ve been to be part of the city’s history.” His last big achievement might be his work on the Midtown East rezoning proposal that is being devised as of last month. Weisbrod calls it a “gem,” and it has the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and councilman Daniel R. Garodnick.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hudson Square to Soar to New Heights With New Zoning

The New York Department of City Planning just approved a rezoning plan of Hudson Square that could likely change the scale of the neighborhood. Developers and landlords can now raise the building height to 290 feet along wide streets, which will make Hudson Square, an 18-block area located west of Soho and south of South Village, more suitable for residential and mixed-use development. Curbed reported that preservationists advocated for landmark designation for South Village to prevent any large-scale development from spilling over into the neighborhood, but a historic district was absent from the zoning amendments. Developer Trinity Real Estate, which owns 40 percent of Hudson Square’s property, initially proposed the rezoning and has committed to making neighborhood improvements.
Placeholder Alt Text

New York City Planning Looks To Better Prep Buildings After Sandy

While the majority of New York City is pre-occupied with the recovery efforts post-Hurricane Sandy, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is discussing and introducing different measures that can be taken to protect our buildings from future storms. At a review session yesterday, Howard Slatkin, the Director of Sustainability and Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for the DCP, presented Hurricane Sandy: Initial Lessons for Buildings. From the start, Slatkin maintained that newly constructed buildings designed to code “fared better.” He listed several buildings—such as The Edge in Williamsburg, IKEA in Red Hook, and Arverne by the Sea in the Rockaways—as examples of new developments that successfully withstood the storm. “Ninety-eight percent of buildings destroyed by the storm were built pre-1983,” said Slatkin. “If you design buildings to the proper standards, they can survive flooding.” Even with those findings, Slatkin said the storm “exceeded both the boundaries and flood heights of the current FEMA 100-year flood zones.” He reinforced the need for upgrades to building codes that would require “freeboarding,” which means elevating the lowest floor of a building. Beyond building codes, Slatkin touched upon the need to implement changes to the flood maps, and revealed that this will happen in the very near future. “FEMA is expediting the release of the new FEMA map,” said Slatkin who anticipates this will happen at the end of this month. FEMA recently posted new flood elevation maps for 10 counties in New Jersey.
Placeholder Alt Text

MAS Proposes 17 Midtown East Landmarks to Avoid “Out With The Old, In With The New”

In response to the New York City Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone Midtown East, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to give landmark status to 17 buildings in the 78-block area concentrated around Grand Central Terminal. It is a last ditch effort to preserve several prominent structures—with styles ranging Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival to Neo-Gothic and Mid-Century Modern—before Midtown gets the green light to raze old structures and erect new (and taller) buildings that provide modern features for tenants who “want open space plans” wrote the DCP in its proposal. The New York Times described the re-zoning as part of the Bloomberg administration’s vision to re-vamp midtown and turn it into a more competitive business district. Some notable buildings that have made MAS’ list include the New York Health & Racquet Club in Gothic Revival Style, the Graybar Building with Art Deco accents, the Neo-Gothic Swedish Seamen’s Church, and the Yale Club noted for its neo-classical façade.
  1. 445 PARK AVENUE, Kahn & Jacobs, 1946-1947
  2. 450 PARK AVENUE, Emery Roth & Sons, 1968-1972
  3. 4 EAST 43rd STREET, Andrew J. Thomas, 1916
  4. 661 LEXINGTON AVENUE, York & Sawyer, 1925-1926
  5. 111 EAST 48th STREET, Cross & Cross, 1925-1926
  6. 18-20 EAST 50th STREET, Rouse & Goldstone; Joseph L. Steinman, 1915
  7. 420 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Sloan & Robertson, 1925-1927
  8. 509 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Schultze & Weaver, 1928-1929
  9. 56 EAST 42nd STREET, J.E.R. Carpenter; Dwight P. Robinson, 1928-1929
  10. 17 EAST 47thSTREET, Henry Otis Chapman, 1932
  11. 5 EAST 48th STREET, Wilfred Edward Anthony, 1921
  12. 125 PARK AVENUE, John Sloan (York & Sawyer), 1921-1923
  13. 250 PARK AVENUE, Cross & Cross, 1923-1924
  14. 525 LEXINGTON AVENUE, Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1922-1923
  15. 270 PARK AVENUE, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1956-1960
  16. 52 VANDERBILT AVENUE, Warren & Wetmore, 1914-1916
  17. 50 VANDERBILT AVENUE, James Gamble Rogers, 1913-1915
Download a PDF with more info on each building here.