Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to scrap his ambitious proposal to rezone east Midtown. That’s unfortunate but for the best. The plan was doomed anyway: Incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio opposed the plan, as did many members of the City Council.
Pushing ahead with rezoning would have caused unnecessary tension at a time when maximum cooperation is required in and around City Hall. Mr. Bloomberg’s final weeks in office represent the closing of an era that began 20 years ago with the election of Rudy Giuliani. Mr. de Blasio campaigned as the anti-Bloomberg, a progressive alternative to 20 years of Republican rule. The transition from Mr. Bloomberg to Mr. de Blasio figures to be bumpy enough; the rezoning issue would have served as a potential divisive distraction.
Still, it’s hard not to lament the plan’s untimely death. Under the Bloomberg proposal, dozens of new towers would have been built in east Midtown, adding new jobs and replacing the aging towers built for the needs and priorities of the mid-20th century.
Equally troubling was the triumphal tone of Mr. de Blasio, who greeted news of the plan’s death with rhetoric taken from the campaign trail. “We cannot afford to hand over the right to develop some of the most valuable real estate in the world without ensuring real and fair benefits for the people of New York City,” he said.
Nobody was looking to simply “hand over” development rights. And as a result of the plan’s demise, the real and fair benefits that come with good jobs will be lost.
As campaign rhetoric gives way to the realities of governing, perhaps the new powers in City Hall will realize that the status quo in east Midtown will not suffice in the decades to come.
The neighborhood needs reinvention as well as rezoning. That sort of creativity and change will bring the very benefits Mr. de Blasio wishes to deliver to the people of New York City.