One major point of contention in the proposed rezoning of Midtown East is the effect significantly taller skyscrapers would have on the neighborhood’s already congested infrastructure.
The City Planning Commission attempted to assuage some of those fears this week when it announced that Grand Central Terminal would receive $465 million in upgrades should the plan be approved.
“This may not be the sexiest thing,” Frank Ruchala of the CPC said during the announcement. “But it’s a significant improvement to the system.” Those improvements will include widened stairways, additional escalators (leading to and from subway stations at Grand Central, Lexington Avenue at 51st and 53rd Streets and Madison Avenue and 53rd Street), and a pedestrian passage between the Grand Central subway and Long Island Railroad platforms.
The LIRR will stop at Grand Central after the $8 billion East Side Access Project is complete, possibly in 2019. The CPC is expected to vote on the the rezoning proposal on September 25. If passed, it would then head to the City Council for approval. In yet another controversial footnote to the Midtown East story, the Grand Central improvements would be partially financed by the District Improvement Fund, a slush fund courtesy of developers who would benefit from the rezoning.