Is Midtown Too Small? City Planning Outlines Ideas for Adding (Much) Taller Towers

How many New Yorkers, after a long day of work, are headed home, a little beaten down, look up and think to themselves, “You know what Midtown needs? Bigger buildings.”

Probably not very many. But this is a question the Department of City Planning and the Bloomberg administration are very seriously considering as they work on rezoning a huge swath of Midtown East, the vaguest details of which were revealed to the land use committees of Community Boards 5 and 6 last night.

The goals of the plan, first revealed, also vaguely, in the mayor’s State of the City address, are quite reasonable. Like it has with so much of the city, from the Far West Side to the Brooklyn waterfront to downtown Jamaica, Queens, the administration wants to revise a set of zoning principals first laid out in 1961, and changed little since.

Meanwhile the world has, as has the city, and in order to stay competitive with places like London, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, Midtown, where 80 percent of buildings are 50 years old or older, must modernize. “We need to think of the global context,” said Edith Hsu-Chen, director of the department’s Manhattan office.
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