East Midtown Zoning

During the last three and a half years the City of New York has undertaken three initiatives to revise the zoning in East Midtown. 

On April 26, 2017, John West delivered testimony to the City Planning Commission on behalf of the City Club regarding East Midtown Rezoning.  John’s main themes were that the proposed amendments to the Zoning Resolution do not fully reflect the comprehensive recommendations of the Steering Committee; that the Planning Department has taken on a conflict of interest in simultaneously seeking to develop an extensive zoning revision, involving doubling available bulk throughout much of the East Midtown area, while, at the same time, using its zoning authority to raise funding for various transit improvements in the area; and that the fund-raising effort would illegally sell zoning rights. Michael Gruen also spoke for the Club.  He elaborated on the legal theme of John’s message, explaining that the demand inherent in the rezoning, that, in order to take advantage of increased floor area to be allowed, owners would be compelled to buy the zoning rights.  He explained the constitutional provisions under which such exaction is illegal.  Both texts are linked.  They are fuller than the oral testimony.

Read more…


  • Click HERE to read the testimony of John West at the City Council land use committee on June 20, 2107, and HERE to read Michael Gruen’s testimony for the same occasion.
  • Click here to read A Better Path for East Midtown, an alternative approach to ensuring the successful future of the Grand Central Area. Or here, for an abbreviated version that was published in CityLaw.
  • Michael Kwartler, of the Environmental Simulation Center, has prepared the following visual modeling, analyses, and critique of the rezoning proposal. Click here to read about the proposed height and set back and daylight regulations. Click here to read about the process of verifiable simulations.
  • The rezoning proposal will encourage wider transfer of Landmark Development rights.  For Larry Sicular’s critique of proposed “required contributions” from these transfers,  click here.
  • The proposal may also encourage some extraordinarily tall and over-scaled buildings.  Click here to read John West’s analysis and visuals.
  • Click here to read the City Club’s testimony to the City Council: Testimony to City Council 4-26-17
  • Click here to read East Midtown is for People Too: East Midtown is for People Too 5-12-17