Redevelopment Proposal Approved for Former Utility Site

Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorNew York–The New York City Council Land Use Committee voted this week to approve a proposal for the former Con Edison municipal utility site bordering the East River between 38th and 41st streets in midtown Manhattn that paves the way for the creation of an East Side Waterfront Park. The $4 billion redevelopment plan for the Con Ed site includes building seven towers on nine acres along First Avenue.Last summer, the Municipal Art Society of New York held a design charrette to create a vision for what the East Side Waterfront Park could look like.The developer of the site, Sheldon H. Solow, has agreed to provide an easement so that the FDR highway can be realigned when it is rebuilt in the next few years. This will allow a deck with a park on top to be built over the highway, finally connecting that part of the East Side to the waterfront.Second, the developer has agreed to provide $10 million towards the construction of this deck and has also guaranteed public access to the park along the routes of 39th and 40th streets. The East River Realty Co. has also made significant improvements to its own development plan for the former Con Ed site. The open space will be overseen by a nonprofit organization that will act as a safeguard against the privatization of this space. The developer has also agreed to substantially reduce the heights of the buildings on the main parcel of the site, making the complex fit in better with the surrounding neighborhood. Solow agreed to buy the land from Con Edison in 2000 for $630 million and spent more than $100 million demolishing the buildings and decontaminating the land, according to a report in the New York Times.The full City Council is expected to vote on the project on March 26.