The knives are already drawn for a proposal that might not even happen, a proposed closure of Vanderbilt Avenue to cars. The mayor supports it anyway, and when the City Planning Commission unveils the outlines for its Midtown East rezoning tonight, New Yorkers may have a better idea of what is in store. Or not. Time and again, it has been stated that this maybe-plan is far from certain.
So now is the time to attack it.
“This is like limo city!” exclaimed Bruce Williams, who works on the avenue, as he watched a fleet of black and navy Lincoln Town Cars idle outside the Yale Club, awaiting passengers who were finishing lunches. A valet could be seen steering a Mercedes S.U.V. toward the building’s Vanderbilt entrance.
A woman standing next to him, who would not give her full name, completed the thought. “This is the Yale Club,” she said. “It’s famous for being on Vanderbilt Avenue.” If cars could no longer drop off or pick up members, she said, “That would kill them.”
As for the Yale Club, a spokeswoman said a meeting was being arranged to discuss the proposal.
The club’s members “haven’t really had much time to think about it,” the spokeswoman, Jennifer Warpool, said. “Obviously there are a lot of logistics.”
But at a press conference yesterday, the mayor seemed to suggest, according to Capital New York, that without embracing the plaza, the city was threatening the economy.
He also said the proposed Vanderbilt Avenue plaza’s proximity to a major transit hub made perfect sense, arguing that “people come out of that and they want to be able to find stores and not get hit by a car and be able to go and disperse.”
“The number of people who have jobs in this city, because of Janette’s department, is more than you can possibly imagine,” he continued. “That is why … we’ve replaced over 200 percent of the private sector jobs lost during the downturn, when the United States has only replaced 40 percent. Why? Because we’ve been growing tourism, one of our industries, and tourism is exactly what these pedestrian streets are all about.”
Making the case that these plazas are not for New Yorkers, though, may not be the strongest play. Already they’ve taken over the sidewalks.