Press Releases

For Immediate Release
October 24, 2017

Rachaele Raynoff, Joe Marvilli – (212) 720-3471


October 24, 2017 - Fulfilling a commitment made in connection with the Greater East Midtown rezoning adopted in August by the City Council, the East Midtown Public Realm Improvement Fund Governing Group held its inaugural meeting at City Hall today. At the meeting, the Governing Group adopted the concept plan for public realm improvements that will be funded by private development in the area. The plan includes a menu of improvements to the commercial district, including shared streets, pedestrian-friendly public open spaces, streetscape improvements and other amenities. 

Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development said, “As we move to build a stronger East Midtown, the nitty-gritty planning work needed to make smart upgrades to subway stations, to improve existing open spaces and to create new ones starts today.”

City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago said, “The public realm improvements that this Governing Group is advancing will complement transit improvements to six area subway stations. Residents and commuters will be able to access transit connections below ground and also enjoy upgraded public space and a better pedestrian environment at the street level. Taken together, these actions set the stage for a thriving business district that will continue to produce benefits for all New Yorkers.”

Council Member Dan Garodnick said, "We promised New Yorkers that they would see real public benefits as we modernize East Midtown. We are getting the ball rolling today, and keeping our promise that we will deliver a class A commercial district with top-notch open public spaces for people to enjoy."

“The East Midtown rezoning pioneered a new model for planning and funding public benefits to go with private development,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Here’s where the real work begins. Together we are planning the slate of improvements that will reenergize midtown for decades to come, bringing long-awaited subway upgrades and more pedestrian-friendly streets.”

"With the future of East Midtown so bright, we are thrilled to participate in the Governing Group's inaugural meeting," said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "In a City growing with historic levels of population, jobs and tourism, the transportation projects coming to East Midtown will offer a welcome antidote to Manhattan's most crowded neighborhood.  The rezoning approved earlier this year sets a new standard: it intelligently prioritizes the most efficient modes of transportation, builds much-needed new subway entrances and improvements, all the while further expanding pedestrian plazas and shared streets.”

In addition to adopting the concept plan, the 13-member Governing Group elected directors, approved a mission statement and reviewed the public realm improvements to which the City committed upfront funds at the time the zoning was adopted. Among those $12 million in projects already underway:

  • A permanent shared street on 43rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue
  • Designation of Pershing East as a pedestrian plaza and upgrades to the space
  • Thoroughfare improvements on 53rd Street between 2nd and 5th Avenues
  • Improvements to Park Avenue traffic patterns through turn lane upgrades
  • Sidewalk improvements on Lexington Avenue at 43rd Street

$38 million in additional City capital is also available for public realm projects to be selected by the Governing Group at subsequent meetings. These projects will take into account the needs of property and business owners along the street. Project selection and design will consider overall circulation, transit connections, building and loading dock access, pick-up and drop-offs, parking, sanitation, deliveries, ADA accessibility, emergency access, and utilities.

The Governing Group appointees include:

  • Deputy Mayor for Housing & Economic Development Alicia Glen
  • City Planning Chair Marisa Lago
  • DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg
  • Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver
  • OMB Director Dean Fuleihan
  • EDC President James Patchett
  • DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza
  • Borough President appointee: Borough President Gale Brewer
  • Citywide civic organization appointee: Susan Chin, Design Trust for Public Space
  • City Council District 4 appointee: Council Member Dan Garodnick
  • City Council Speaker appointee: Keith Powers
  • Manhattan Community Board Five appointee: Vikki Barbero
  • Manhattan Community Board Six appointee: Terrence O’Neal

The improvements are made possible by zoning changes in Greater East Midtown. The zoning changes will enable the development of new Class-A commercial buildings, cementing East Midtown’s position as a premier business district that offers modern amenities and a range of office types. Buildings would be able to achieve higher density provided the developments support enhancements to the area’s public realm by providing transit improvements and/or purchasing unused floor area from the district’s landmarks.

The zoning framework will generate 6.8 million square feet in new commercial office space over the next 20 years, along with an additional 6.6 million square feet of older office space that will be upgraded into Class A office space. The resulting development is expected to create up to 28,000 new, permanent jobs and 23,000 construction jobs in the next two decades.

The Governing Group will control, prioritize, and fund public realm projects through a newly established Public Realm Improvement Fund that will be funded as development occurs by a minimum contribution of $61.49 per square foot of new or rebuilt development or 20 percent of air rights sale prices.

Information on East Midtown Governing Group meetings and actions will be maintained on a web page on the City Planning web site.