What does the future of East Midtown hold?
In response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed zoning changes, announced last summer to spur the modernization of East Midtown, MAS has been actively seeking ways to help ensure the future vitality of this important neighborhood. After months of research and dialogue with area stakeholders, city officials, preservationists and planning professionals MAS developed a report, “East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future,” which puts forward specific recommendations to help secure the future success of one of North America’s most important central business districts.
MAS fears that in the absence of a comprehensive, forward-thinking vision, the City’s proposal to upzone a significant portion of East Midtown’s office core – roughly between 39th Street to 57th Street from 5th Avenue to 3rd Avenue – will fall short. This upzoning would allow the development of some of the largest buildings in New York City – radically transforming the skyline, and altering some of the city’s most iconic streets.
This re-thinking of East Midtown comes at a particularly unique moment as 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal- one of the world’s most active transit hubs and celebrated public spaces. Although the neighborhood surrounding the Terminal is home to first-rate architecture, such as the celebrated Lever House (1952) and the Seagram Building (1958), the neighborhood’s public realm – the streets, sidewalks, open spaces and even underground passageways– has been neglected, becoming increasingly overcrowded, dark and glib.
The confluence of the centennial and the proposed East Midtown rezoning along with the neighborhood’s existing infrastructure and development projects provide a momentous opportunity to re-envision the future of this neighborhood. To begin this process, MAS spearheaded The Next 100, which brought together three incredibly distinguished architecture firms – Foster + Partners, SOM, and WXY to re-think the public spaces in and around the Terminal. Their exciting new ideas and inspired visions were presented at the 2012 MAS Summit for New York.
MAS has long played an essential role in the story of Grand Central. In the 1970s along with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, MAS helped prevent the demolition of the Terminal, thus upholding the tenets of the 1965 Landmarks Law. MAS continues to act as steward of the Terminal and its surroundings in order to help East Midtown remain one of the world’s most desirable business addresses.
MAS will continue to investigate all of the critical issues in a variety of ways to help ensure that this neighborhood represents a more sustainable, livable and forward looking New York City.