on the waterfront
Those Zecekendorfs sure do love their starchitects.
From William Zeckendorf’s work with I.M. Pei and Minoru Yamaski in the 1960s and ’70s to his grandsons’ projects with the likes of KPF and, most notably, Robert A.M. Stern, who created both the brand new 15 Central Park West and the newly renovated 18 Gramercy Park South, the Zeckendorfs have a thing for high design.
Add to that now 50 UN Plaza, a 44-story condo tower on the East Side that will be Lord Norman Foster’s first residential commission in the United States. Mr. Foster is well known for his work on the Hearst Tower, World Trade Center Tower 2 and the new Sperrone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery, as well as a new commission for 425 Park Avenue for L&L Holdings. With this latest commission, he cements his place as an all-around architectural power in the city.
Building booms come and developers go, but a good project has a way of sticking around. Times Square, Columbus Circle, Hudson River Park, Queens West, all have seen their ups and downs, all are in various states of repose.
It was almost five years ago that the Municipal Art Society began conceiving of ways to remake a stretch of the East River waterfront in front of the old Con Ed plant between 38th Street and 41st Street. At the time, the question was how to not only bring access to the water but also how to make it work with a massive residential development planned by Sheldon Solow–how to make sure this would be public space for all, and not just a Sutton Place-style backyard for luxury apartment towers.
Mr. Solow is gone, at least for now, but another benefactor has taken his place. Since the city and the United Nations reached a deal in October to hand over half of the Robert Moses playground in exchange for, among other things, $150 million for waterfront redevelopment, MAS has revived its plans for this piece of East River real estate.
Ever since MetLife put Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on the block five years ago, residents of the storied middle class enclave have been trying to buy it. They were beat out by Tishman Speyer, who eventually defaulted on their $5.4 billion purchase (the largest in real estate history). After their failure, Wily Bill Ackman swooped in and tried to arrange a deal, but that failed. The tenants also made a second, unsuccessful go of things. Now, that champion of the 1 percent and a lender on the original deal, Brookfield Properties is making a bid to help keep the long-time tenants in place.