Why We Need to Revitalize East Midtown

East Midtown

Image: New York Department of City Planning Cities around the world look to New York as a model of dynamic urban life. Yet in one area, New York has fallen behind its peers -- the city is failing to generate enough modern office space to accommodate all the companies, entrepreneurs and employees who want to work and do business here. While such cities as Chicago, London and Tokyo have rejuvenated their business districts with modern, environmentally sustainable infrastructure, much of the office space in Manhattan's East Midtown is long past its prime. That is why the city has proposed altering the zoning rules in East Midtown, a nearly 20-block-long area anchored by Grand Central Terminal. In a new op-ed, RPA President Bob Yaro discusses the future of east midtown and how to balance modernization with preservation of the city's livable environment and rich architectural heritage.

As Yaro notes, the proposal likely would result in fewer than two dozen new buildings being constructed in the area. East Midtown's many architectural icons, from the Seagram and Chrysler buildings, Grand Central itself and a host of other impressive sites, will continue to stand out as the neighborhood is enhanced. The district's long-term prosperity also hinges on the expansion of transportation infrastructure, Yaro says, including the eventual extension of the Second Avenue subway down the length of Manhattan. "A key ingredient of [New York's] appeal is its density--the juxtaposition of diverse businesses, the walkability of many neighborhoods and the easy access to social, professional and cultural opportunities," Yaro writes. "The changes proposed for east midtown under the city's plan capitalize on those strengths, and on another quality that has made New York the envy of big cities worldwide: the willingness to innovate." Read the complete op-ed in Crain's.