Best Laid Plans
Last Friday night on far west Spring Street, the Ear Inn was crowded as usual. A mix of neighborhood regulars and happy-hour-indulging co-workers from the nearby loft buildings—architects, ad execs, programmers, writers—were crammed around the mahogany bar imbibing. Others were gathered outside around benches on the uncrowned sidewalk two blocks from the West Side Highway.
The bar has been there for 195 years, but forget asking for some sort of mixological cocktail that could be found at hundreds of establishments citywide pretending at this sort of authenticity. Above the bar, beyond the shelves of dusty liquor bottles, are glass carboys, ruddy green and brown glass, the size of harbor buoys. They held wine more than a century ago and disappeared into the bowels of the basement, only to be excavated in the 1970s when the bar was made over by a band of eccentric artists. One of their rank tended bar until five years ago. He has since moved upstate. Things change, then they don’t.
“We’ve gotten the holy trinity of Pret a Manger, Starbucks and Hale & Hearty soups, but otherwise the neighborhood looks the way you imagine it did 100 years ago,” said James Parvin, a segment producer at NBC who lives in a loft he converted himself on nearby Charlton Street.
We already know that the DMZ between the Upper West Side and Hell’s Kitchen (call it Lower West End Avenue?) is a happening spot, with the Walentases, the Dursts, the Elghanyans, basically everybody building a slick new project over there. The biggest, of course, is Riverside Center, Gary Barnett’s massive reimagining of the final plots of the Riverside South complex.
Earlier this week, Extell returned to the local community board with plans for affordable housing in the project, according to DNAinfo, and therein he revealed the latest detailed designs for the Christian de Portzamparc-created project.
Lies and Rumors
Remember when sales started at 15 Central Park West? And how the buyers were “supposed to be kept secret,” but everyone was too excited to keep quiet and they gossiped like crazy and all the buyers turned out to be really famous, exciting celebrities like Denzel Washington and Sting? Wasn’t that great? We were almost like best friends, us and 15 CPW, whispering late into the night together, swapping secrets.
One57, on the other-hand, is mysterious and distant and never tells us anything, huffs The New York Times in article about how different One57′s approach to publicity is from the good natured and totally cool about everything 15 CPW.
The Qatari Prime Minister, despite being everyone’s favorite character in the drama of the New York’s luxury real estate market, is not the buyer of the $90 million penthouse at One57, according to Gary Barnett.
Mr. Barnett, the president of Extell Development, told The Wall Street Journal that the rumors, though rampant, were false.
You can’t always get what you want, but it seems that Qatari prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani finally got what he needed (and if anyone can be said to need a massive apartment, it’s a man with two wives and 15 children). After courting co-op board after co-op board, Mr. Hamad has finally found a home, according to the New York Post. And not just any home, but the $90 penthouse at One57, which is poised to set the record for most expensive condo ever sold.
Last night, The Observer got a glimpse of the super-tall residential tower Gary Barnett has planned for Broadway and 57th Street, just one block away from his already very tall One57.
Our good friends at Curbed picked up on this and were brilliant enough to photoshop the two onto the same skyline. It is quite the striking image, but not quite complete.
After all, rival 432 Park is already underway—and looking for more investors, if you’re interested, as The Journal revealed yesterday—so we figured, what the hey, let’s put them all together.
Welcome to your new skyline, circa 2015.
Blind item: Which architecture firm displayed a mind-boggling model for a skyscraper that may well never be built, at least in this lovely form, on the corner of Broadway and 57th Street for Gary Barnett? The model was on display last night inside one of the firm’s downtown projects, which is all The Observer can say lest we give the devilish designers away.
If only Gary “The Best” Barnett were editing The Times, the Gray Lady wouldn’t have buried the lede.
“I think the story got a little carried away,” Mr. Barnett told The Observer by phone this afternoon. He was referring to a report in today’s Times that Extell, Mr. Barnett’s development company, had sold the penthouse at his 1,005-foot One57 luxury tower for somewhere in the neighborhood of $90 million to $100 million.
We asked how—and why—the sale had been kept under wraps for a few of months now, even as the price was raised from $98 million to $115 million in the face of the sale of Sandy Weill’s $88 million spread at 15 Central Park West. “We wanted to tie the two together,” he said, “the penthouse announcement and the fact that we’re 50 percent sold. We thought 50 percent would be the big news, but shows what we know.”
As though he doesn’t know exactly what he is doing.
Still, Mr. Barnett has a point: The Times totally
ignored (downplayed) the 50-percent-sold news, not mentioning it only once. (See Correction below.)
This is now officially the most-watched development in all of Manhattan.
As Extell’s One57 climbs skyward, so do the prices, with the penthouse now asking an astronomic $110 million. Christian de Portzamparc, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect behind the project, discussed the inspiration for the tallest residential tower in the city with the International Business Times, where he revealed new details about the project as well as (and more importantly) new renderings.
It turns out the EB-5 visa has won fans beyond Atlantic Yards, where Bruce Ratner has been trying to use the program to gin up funds for his prefabulous apartment towers.
Over the past four years, developers in the New York area have raised upwards of $1 billion through the visas-for-cash program, according to an investigation in The Times. During that period, EB-5 applications across the country have nearly quadrupled, to 3,800, as the Obama administration has been promoting the program strongly.