For Immediate Release:
January 31, 2013

Contact:  Mike Morey,
212-561-8730
mmorey@skdknick.com

In Effort to Keep New York Globally Competitive, Business, Labor, Real Estate Communities Launch Major Effort to Support Rezoning of Midtown East

‘Midtown 21C’ Coalition To Press for Greater Flexibility in Transferring Air Rights, Inclusion of Additional Sites in Periphery of District, and Allowing Condo-Hotels in the District

(New York, NY) In an effort to secure support for the approval of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to rezone Midtown East, a coalition of leaders in the business, labor, and real estate communities launched a major advocacy campaign today called Midtown21C: Coalition for a Globally Competitive NYC. Members of the coalition include: the New York Building Congress, Building Trades Employers Association, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ Service Employees International Union, and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

In a letter to New York City officials, Midtown21C made the case that to remain globally competitive in the 21st Century, Midtown East, long the dominant business district in Manhattan, needs to be able to develop office space that can compete with international cities like London, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Citing the aging designs of many of the buildings in the district, the coalition noted that it was imperative that New York City be able to develop buildings with column-free floors, greater floor-to-ceiling heights, energy efficient features, and world-class designs that will rival—and surpass—other international cities. The coalition is urging that the rezoning be completed over the next several months so that businesses and developers interested in building know fully the rules under which they will be planning.

Members of Midtown21C respond to the coalition’s launch:

"Throughout the history of this city, Midtown East has been an economic and jobs juggernaut that constantly evolves to stay ahead of the competition," said Steve Spinola, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. "To stop growing now would be tantamount to surrendering Midtown’s reputation as the pre-eminent business district in the world. Midtown21C intends to make sure that doesn’t happen."

"The rezoning of Midtown East will not only bring thousands of new office jobs to our city, but it will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into New York’s economy by putting thousands of construction workers to work," said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "The Building Trades believe strongly that to build a 21st-century New York, we need 21st-century office space."

"Rezoning Midtown is a direct investment not only in Manhattan’s business community, but its working families across the five boroughs," said Héctor Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU. "We have a unique opportunity to keep New York economically strong for years to come while providing thousands of good-paying jobs in the process."

"This rezoning is not just about Class A office space, it’s about making sure that Midtown East remains a pre-eminent global business district with globally competitive amenities to attract tourists and business travelers," said Peter Ward of the Hotel Trades Council. "Rezoning Midtown East and requiring hotels only by special permit will allow for the construction of state-of-the-art accommodations that will not only be the envy of the world, but will create and protect good jobs for New Yorkers here at home."

"The rezoning of Midtown East will allow us to build the City of the future and ensure that this vital district remains a center of economic growth and job creation with global significance," said Richard T. Anderson, President of the New York Building Congress.

"The rezoning of Midtown East will mean the creation of thousands of good-paying jobs in New York City," said Louis J. Coletti, President of the Building Trades Employers Association. "The new development and redevelopment that this rezoning will generate will help to ensure work for everyone in the construction industry—including contractors and building trade workers—for many years to come."

"If New York wants to remain first in its class for business, then we need to ensure that it has first-rate office space. We can’t simply talk the talk," said Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. "Rezoning Midtown East will allow us to show the world that New York means business—for everyone from major organizations to small companies, which are a significant job creator—and back up our reputation with action."

In its letter to city officials supporting the rezoning, Midtown21C coalition members presented a series of additions to the plan for which it is advocating. Specifically, Midtown21C is calling for:

  • Permitting landmarked buildings to transfer unused development rights more widely within the district.
  • Allowing the District Improvement Bonus ("DIB") and landmark transferrable development rights to be used on the same project outside the Grand Central Sub-district.
  • Requiring developers to seek a special permit for hotels in the district.
  • Allowing for condo hotels within the district.
  • Encouraging more development opportunities within the district by:
    • Including additional sites on the periphery of the proposed rezoning.
    • Providing greater flexibility in the size and frontage required for development sites.
    • Ensuring that any new landmarking within the district is done reasonably.
    • Developing a clear and fair process for determining payments to the District Improvements Fund.
    • Eliminating the requirement for owners to pay to redevelop older, overbuilt properties to the same FAR.
    • Ensuring that all of the proposed as-of-right FAR can be used within a site’s required height and setback envelopes.

Over the course of the coming weeks, Midtown21C members intend to meet with local officials and community organizations, and to launch a public advocacy campaign to make the case for the proposal.

A copy of the coalition’s letter to the City can be found below.

January 25, 2013

Robert K. Steel
Deputy Mayor for Economic Development
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Deputy Mayor Steel,

Thank you for the leadership and hard work that Mayor Bloomberg, you, Commissioner Burden and others in the administration have displayed on behalf of the proposed rezoning of the Midtown East business district.

We are writing to you to apprise you of the formation of a new group in support of a rezoning of Midtown East to be approved in 2013—Midtown21C: Coalition for a Globally Competitive NYC.

Modernizing the zoning regulations in Midtown East will ensure that this pre-eminent business district remains competitive in a 21st-century global economy. In today’s era of increased national and international travel, and with communication technology getting better every year, it is imperative that New York City continue to develop buildings with column-free floors, greater floor-to-ceiling heights, energy efficient features, and world-class design that will rival—and surpass—those being constructed in cities such as London, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Along with ensuring that Midtown remains a pre-eminent global business district, a successful rezoning will spur many good jobs for New Yorkers—both construction and permanent—while raising funds to improve transit and pedestrian areas in the neighborhood. These jobs will be a crucial part of New York City’s continued economic growth over the next ten or twenty years, bolstering our construction trades, ensuring new jobs for building service and hotel workers, and allowing for the continued growth of key industries that will benefit from modernized office facilities. Contributions to the District Improvements Fund ("DIF") will allow for improvements to our transportation and pedestrian networks that will support an increased number of workers and visitors in the neighborhood and help to alleviate pedestrian and transit congestion.

We are supportive of your efforts and think that the City’s proposal for rezoning is a solid framework to build upon. Based on this initial plan, we would like to suggest several important ways in which we feel the rezoning can be improved:

  • Permit landmarked buildings to transfer unused development rights more widely within the district.
  • Allow the District Improvement Bonus ("DIB") and landmark transferrable development rights to be used on the same project outside the Grand Central Sub-district.
  • Require developers to seek a special permit for hotels in the district.
  • Allow for condo hotels within the district.
  • Encourage more development opportunities within the district by:
    • Including additional sites on the periphery of the proposed rezoning.
    • Providing greater flexibility in the size and frontage required for development sites.
    • Ensuring that any new landmarking within the district is done reasonably.
    • Developing a clear and fair process for determining payments to the District Improvements Fund.
    • Eliminating the requirement for owners to pay to redevelop older, overbuilt properties to the same FAR.
    • Ensuring that all of the proposed as-of-right FAR can be used within a site’s required height and setback envelopes.

We have outlined these proposals in greater detail on the attached sheet.
You are to be commended for undertaking the process of rezoning Midtown East and helping to ensure that New York continues to be a competitive, world-class business district for years to come. In the coming weeks and months, we will aggressively advocate for the passage in 2013 of a rezoning plan for Midtown East, along with the proposed improvements to the plan that we have suggested above.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in the coming weeks and discuss our suggested improvements to the plan, as well as the ways in which we can be helpful to your efforts. You may reach us at coalition@midtown21c.org if you would like to arrange a time to meet.

Sincerely,

Richard T. Anderson, President, New York Building Congress
Louis J. Coletti, President, Building Trades Employers Association
Héctor Figueroa, President, 32BJ Service Employees International Union
Gary LaBarbera, President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
Nancy Ploeger, President, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
Steven Spinola, President, The Real Estate Board of New York
Peter Ward, President, Hotel Trades Council

cc: Amanda Burden, Chair, City Planning Commission