On September 6, the New York Times published a letter to the editor written by LW! President Arlene Simon responding to Professor Kenneth T. Jackson’s op-ed “Gotham’s ToweringAmbitions” published on August 30th. Arlene’s letter to the New York Times calls out Jackson’s offense in mixing “the zoning issues at stake in East Midtown with a different set of issues involved in landmark preservation.” The next day, LW! invited your reactions to Jackson’s response to the Midtown East rezoning, and your letters gave emphasis to our disappointment in his commentary and his calling out LW! for seeking to designate additional landmark buildings and historic districts. As one of the world’s leading historians, Professor Jackson’s opposition to historic preservation is inapt and his support for rezoning the area around Grand Central Terminal is perplexing.
Yesterday, November 12th, it was announced that Councilman DanGarodnick and Council speaker Christine Quinn would not vote for Mayor MichaelBloomberg’s rezoning plan, leading to the administration’s withdrawal of a proposal that would have allowed for taller buildings on approximately 73 blocks throughout Midtown East. For the past two years, the contentious proposal endured an extensive public review process that began when the real estate industry and the Bloomberg administration argued that the office space in the area “is outdated and increasingly unappealing to modern tenants.” Proponents believe rezoning for more modern office skyscrapers is the answer to preserving New York City’s rank as a world-class city.
In a statement sent to reporters, councilmembers Garodnick and Quinn said, “a good idea alone is not enough to justify action today. We should rezone East Midtown, but only when we can do so properly.” They will set out to “achieve all of the goals set out by the Bloomberg Administration and do so in a way that respects the interests and perspectives of all the stakeholders – the community; the workers who will populate and serve the new and expanded buildings in East Midtown; the landmarks in the area and the developers who support the current proposal.”
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio commended the councilmembers, “for pressing the pause button in order to ensure these concerns are adequately addressed.” He stated that he is committing to “presenting a revised rezoning plan for the area by the end of 2014.
Shortly after the news was publicized, Mayor Bloomberg stated his administration would withdraw its application to rezone Midtown East. After frantically attempting to collect votes for support in the Council and to persuade opponents of the proposal’s value, efforts ultimately came up short, marking an indefinite pause for elevating New York City’s skyline.
We thank you for sending in your letters to your Council members and working hard to preserve the landmarks of Midtown East. You can be sure LANDMARK WEST! will continue to fiercely advocate for the preservation of the Upper West Side and the City of New York as the new administration unfolds.