NEW YORK CITY-The list of local politicians taking issue with the proposed Midtown East rezoning plan has grown yet again.
City Council Daniel Garodnick, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman joined forces to send a letter Wednesday to the city questioning several aspects of the plan and demanding not necessarily changes but that the city reevaluate a number of aspects of the plan and the research behind it.
In their letter to Robert Steel, deputy mayor for economic development, the four officials joined forces to request “a commitment to infrastructure improvements in the Grand Central neighborhood today,” and “a comprehensive public realm plan, which addresses the area’s needs block by block. A rezoning plan must result in more walkable and well-designed streets, open spaces, and seamless connections between the buildings and Grand Central,” they say.
In addition, the letter requests that the city “conduct the broadest possible environmental review.” This would entail seven steps, the politicos assert: “the environmental impacts of a mixed-use development alternative; a broader landmarks transfer alternative outside of the Grand Central subdistrict; alternative financing structures to the DIB to fund essential transit and streetscape improvements now; an examination of how the city could allocate or raise funds now and be repaid later; alternatives to the proposed, single-number set for the DIB price to allow maximum returns to the city with each sale, and transparency for each transaction; a special permit requirement for hotels; and a longer or shorter sunrise provision.”
Ultimately, Garodnick et al want the plan to be as transparent to average New Yorkers as possible. “Simply put, there needs to be much more predictability for the public about the benefits of this rezoning proposal,” they say in the letter. “Just as we hope to make it very clear to the development community what they can expect from the new rules, and what their benefits and obligations will be, we need to do the same for the public.”
Early last year, the same four leaders, as well as Assemblyman Dan Qart, asked the city to have the Department of City Planning scrap its plan for the project, according to the New York Observer. The quintet of voices questioned whether there would be enough time for community input in light of a then pending deadline—which was just a few weeks away at that time—to have the plan certified, the paper reported.
The city did unveil a modified proposal earlier this month, but seemed to feel no further changes would be made. In an interview at that time with Crain’s New York Business, Frank Ruchala, the city planner supervising the rezoning, said at that time, “In large part, what we’ve shown is where we think we’ll be going with this.”