Two years ago, renowned British architect Norman Foster was tapped to design an underground expansion for the New York Public Library, a project that has seen little movement since it was first revealed. Foster + Partners may now be working on something above ground at Bryant Park as well, albeit it of an equally speculative nature.
The Post‘s Lois Weiss got word that Eric Hadar is in talks with Foster for a 300,000-square-foot office/hotel/condo project of some sort built on an assemblage of properties on West 40th Street, on the south side of the park. Weiss’ sources suggest that two of the buildings would go, while a third, an annex to the landmarked American Radiator Building at 50 West 40th Street, would likely be preserved in some capacity.
The L-shaped lot also includes 54 West 40th Street and 43 West 39th Street, with 50 West 40th located at the crux of the site. Though majestic, the building is not currently landmarked. The decision to preserve it anyway is a worthy one, though it probably also helps stave off an outcry.
This is familiar territory for Foster, as his best-known building in the city is the Hearst Building, the crystalline tower on 57th Street that rises from the historic six-story base of the original Hearst headquarters. Foster is also familiar with the challenges facing this latest project, having contended with preservationists and annoyed neighbors on his 980 Madison addition and the still uncertain timeline on his 2 World Trade Center tower.
Similar challenges appear to be facing this project. Weiss reports that at the same time Hadar is negotiating with Foster, he is also in talks with CUNY to put a new community college into one of the buildings that has already been built out as a school, raising questions about when or even if the new building would get built.
And yet this could simply be a shrewd move on Hadar’s part, getting the building occupied and generating income in the short-term while he goes through the city’s onerous approval process. Plus, construction financing limited as it is right now, this project probably won’t be beaking ground for years.
Still, the possibility is tantalizing. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing of this project, as well.