Council Approves Development Plans for Former Con Ed Site in New York City

The New York City Council Land Use Committee has voted to approve a plan for the development of the former Con Edison site. Plans calling for a park at the site, between 38th and 41st Streets on the city’s east side, just south of the United Nations, can now be solidified. The changes include the granting, by developer Sheldon Solow, of an easement to the city to allow a deck to be built over the FDR highway. Solow also agreed to reduce the planned heights for some of the future buildings, which will help the redesign blend with the neighborhood. Solow also pledged to put $10 million towards the project.This vote was applauded by the coalition of civic organizations and local representatives in favor of the park, which includes the Municipal Art Society, Manhattan Community Board Six, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, the East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development, New Yorkers for Parks, and New York’s Transportation Alternatives. As reported in CPN last month, the groups launched a campaign to call for the four-acre park. Today, Jasper Goldman, senior policy analyst for the Municipal Arts Society, told CPN, “We really feel like we cleared a hurdle with this vote. We had been worried about how people would get to the park, and if they could cross the privately owned property owned by Solow. So the easement is essential, and now access has been secured. And also Solow will fund the deck to the tune of $10 million, which is critical. That’s a major step forward, although obviously other funding sources will need to be found, including federal, state and city sources.” Plans for the park, created by six landscape architects, include a dramatic curving walkway for pedestrians to access the East River and a ferry landing at East 40th Street. The six landscape architects are Ken Smith, designer of the rooftop garden at the Museum of Modern Art; Ricardo Scofidio, designer of the High Line; Matthew Urbanski, designer of Brooklyn Bridge Park; Margie Ruddick, designer of improvements to Queens Plaza; Kate Orff, a principal at SCAPE Studio; and Brian Jencek, a principal at Hargreaves Associates. The project will close the current gap in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway from 38th to 63rd Street. This will let pedestrians, cyclists and joggers move from the Battery to Harlem along the East River. Plans call for the park to be both above ground and to also reach river level. This will permit water activities, like ferry access.