The sun was setting over New York harbor, and behind it, the coast of New Jersey. From the 17th floor of 11 Broadway, through the not-floor-to-ceiling, turn-of-the-last-century office windows, the Statue of Liberty was plainly visible. She appeared to be waving through the late-summer haze. Milling about and sipping champagne were some of the city’s biggest developers and their employees, names emblazoned upon apartment towers from this end of Manhattan to the other and beyond.
Silverstein, Ratner, Extell, Elad, Milstein, Glenwood, Trump. All the big firms were there, along with many other machers and dealmakers. It could have been a convention of The No Nonsense Apartment Builders Association of the Greater Five Boroughs. Instead it was the third anniversary party for Goldstein, Hill & West and the unveiling of their new downtown offices.
The foyer is painted a slick graphite gray, with a globular chandelier overhead, but beyond that, the designer pretense fades away. There are no amoebic benches, no plywood bookcases, no 3D printer for producing models of unusually torqued and cantilevered buildings. Little hangs on the walls besides drafting templates and zoning handbooks. It is this simplicity of design, aesthetic and attitude that draws the city’s biggest developers to the firm.
These days hard hats are the non plus ultra of chic accessories. They make a Birkin bag look so pedestrian! And having one’s hair coiffed and colored to perfection at Frederic Fekkai is all well and good, but it’s nothing without the windblown disarray that one achieves from standing on a high floor of an unfinished skyscraper.
Yes, the best way to show off one’s money, powers of persuasion and impressive social connections is scoring a ride to the top of One57 or One World Trade Center. (Any other building that begins with “One” and recently had a topping out ceremony would also be a good bet). Why bother dropping names when you can drop an experience that illustrates you know all the names worth dropping?
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
You might think that life would be impossibly pleasant for the set wealthy enough to buy magisterial spreads on the top fifteen floors of One57. But The New York Times reports that a potential storm is brewing on the building’s uppermost floors. Extell is deeply concerned that members of the “billionaire’s club” will clash with each other as they undertake massive renovations to the yet-to-be finished spaces.
Has the Upper West Side fallen for an eight-acre bait and switch?
At least one and possibly all five towers at the massive Riverside Center development will not be the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc. The French designer helped Extell Development and the Carlyle Group sell their swank plans‘ to the community and the City Planning Commission. The latter was so taken with the crystalline designs of Mr. de Portzamparc, who also designed the LVMH headquarters and Extell’s One57 tower, that restrictive zoning covenants were set to ensure the buildings would look as promised.
But now, Extell and Carlyle have turned over one of their tower sites to the Dermot Company, which has hired local firm SLCE to design the apartment building on the West End Avenue section of the site. While Dermot insists its project will be up to the standards promised during last year’s public review process, some, including the exacting City Planning chair Amanda Burden, worry the design doppelgangers will lead to lesser work.
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.
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.
Lies and Rumors
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.
It’s nothing new that Chinese buyers are flooding the apartment market in New York and the rest of the country. Yet a pretty definitive article on the subject in The Journal reveals some interesting facts about the lengths some developers will go to to reach the Chinese market, including one project of particular interest to us: Gary Barnett’s One57.
It seems like only yesterday we were standing on the 67th floor of Extell Development’s One57, but these towers have a tendency to move fast, and now Gary Barnett has surmounted those final 20-odd floors, bringing his 90-story, record-setting tower to it final height or 1,005 feet over Manhattan.
That record setting price helped Mr. Barnett achieve a record sale on the penthouse, now taking shape, that sold for more than $90 million.
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.