Though they are amazingly popular with billionaires, Gary Barnett’s luxury developments are not always well-liked by the community, and at the Community Board 5 meeting Thursday night, his latest project met with widespread disapproval. After lengthy deliberation, the board voted to reject Extell’s request for a permit to cantilever a 1,550-foot super-skyscraper at 217 West 57th Street over the landmarked Students Art League next door.
Mr. Barnett himself appeared at the community Bbard meeting, in the company of a small army of consultants, lawyers and employees, to ask the board to approve the plans for what has been dubbed the Nordstrom Tower because the retailer plans to open its first New York department store in the tower’s base (a hotel and luxury condos will, of course, rise above).
The Eight-Day Week
Extell’s plan to cantilever over the Park Avenue Christian Church didn’t work out so well—neighbors and the Landmarks Commission kind of freaked out over the developer’s plan to build a 210-foot-tall condo tower that would wrap about the historic church’s spire and block a wall of stained glass windows. Extell has since backed off of the Park Avenue plan, promising a less controversial design by preservation experts Beyer Blinder Belle. But that doesn’t mean the developer is giving up the dream of cantilevering over a landmark—and this time it’s the Art Students League.
Real estate kerfuffles
George Pitts moderates an R-rated panel discussion, “The Role of the Nude in Contemporary Photography,” between Mona Kuhn (the talk is in conjunction with Ms. Kuhn’s curated exhibition “Under My Skin” at Flowers Gallery), Vince Aletti, Shen Wei and Mariah Robertson, investigating the impact of the naked body in modern photography. Bare flesh always captures Read More
And then there were condos
Despite the rainy, windy weather that is set to hit New York tomorrow and a last-minute lawsuit filed to stop Extell from evacuating two co-op buildings adjacent to One57, plans to repair the crane broken during Hurricane Sandy are still moving forward Saturday morning.
Which means that the unfortunate residents of Alwyn Court, the landmarked building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 58th Street, will either vacate the building voluntarily in the next few hours or face forcible eviction. The crane repair involves swinging a boom over Alwyn and two other buildings before hoisting it up the side of the unfinished tower.
With prices ranging from $2.9 million to $65 million, no one can accuse Extell’s hotel-to-condo conversion at 21 East 61st Street—which just launched sales—of courting bargain hunters. But in comparison to Gary Barnett’s crown jewel rising a half mile away on 57th Street, the Carlton House looks positively affordable.
In comparison to anything other than uber-luxury condos poised to set records when they close for more than $90 million, the Carlton House is pricey indeed. Though anyone who was really hankering for the low end of the luxury market would be well-advised to stay away from Extell projects altogether—only Extell could make $65 million look, well, kind of reasonable.
There had been rumors that Gary Barnett had tapped Swiss starchitects and downtown darlings Herzog & de Meuron to design his supertall skyscraper at the corner of 57th Street and Broadway, but now The Journal reports that Adrian Smith is the architect for 225 West 57th Street. The bigger surprise, literally, may be that the 1,550-foot height for the Extell tower, which The Observer previously reported, may just be a starting point.
No sooner did Extell Development file permits for a new 1,550-foot residential tower on the corner of 57th Street and Broadway then scaffolding started to go up around one of the final properties comprising Gary Barnett’s little west side assemblage that will be home to the city’s tallest tower. On Friday morning, The Observer happened to be out for a stroll on the crosstown boulevard when we noticed construction workers assembling a sidewalk shed, the first sign of construction commencement.
A source close to Extell confirms that demolition will soon begin on 1780 Broadway, a 12-story building that was once home to BF Goodrich. At the time, this corner of Gotham was known as Automobile Row during the Gilded Age. Because of an agreement with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the facade of 1780 Broadway must be retained as part of any new building, so this will presumably be a careful deconstruction.
If King Kong were to swing into New York sometime this decade, he might actually have a hard time figuring out where to go.
In the original 1933 black-and-white classic, King Kong famously scales the two-year-old Empire State Building, cementing it in the conscience of the world as arguably its most famous skyscraper. Four decades later, the giant gorilla set his sights higher, standing astride the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Today, perhaps he might climb atop their succesor, the new 1 World Trade Center. But one gets the sense that King Kong is given to gigantism, so only the city’s tallest tower will do.
Until a few months ago, that would have been 1 World Trade. But since 432 Park Avenue began to rise skyward in April, the 1,397-foot condo tower developed by Harry Macklowe and CIM on the old Drake Hotel site would have claimed the skyline crown. It beats out its downtown rival by 29 feet, so long as one ignores the silly 400-foot sorta spire atop 1 World Trade. Should King Kong arrive sometime in 2014, this slinky tower would probably be his choice.
But a year or two after that, and he might turn his gaze further down 57th Street, past the already striking 1,005-foot One57 tower, Gary Barnett’s billionaire bauble nearing completion despite that crane accident. There it would settle on another tower being developed by Mr. Barnett, at 225 West 57th Street, just one block from what was already going to be the city’s tallest apartment building when it opens next year. The new tower’s height, according to building permits filed last week: 1,550 feet.
PR maven Ronn Torossian, who was evacuated from his offices at 888 Seventh Avenue, has been passing around an op-ed to outlets across the city, Gothamist among them. He blames Extell Development for failing to maintain its now-crushed crane at One57, accuses the firm of negligence and mismanagement and endangering the people and economy of the city. “A thorn and open question remains the 90-story residential tower, One57,” Mr. Torossian writes, in his piece titled “Shame on Extell Development and Gary Barnett.”
“The city of New York should demand that Extell and Barnett pay back the city, residents and businesses back for the millions it will cost because of their negligence,” he concludes.
Extell released the following statement to The Observer taking Mr. Torossian to task for trying to capitalize on this misfortune.
For the past few hours, New Yorkers’ eyes have been trained on the skies, or at least their TV and computer screens. No, they are not watching out for the eye of the storm but the crane that Hurricane Sandy has dislodged in Midtown Manhattan. The boom of the crane attached to the billionaire-beloved One57 snapped back earlier today and has been hanging precariously ever since, but it has yet to break free, and the hope is that will be the situation until the storm passes.
At a press briefing this evening, Mayor Bloomberg said all buildings on West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues have been evacuated, as well as “exposed buildings” on the same block of West 56th Street. Among the buildings evacuated were a hotel and some apartment and office buildings. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but better safe than sorry,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
The accident occurred at 2:35 p.m. today, according to a statement from Lend Lease, the general contractor on the project, the tallest apartment building in the city, at 1,005 feet, and also home to the most expensive sale ever, more than $90 million for the penthouse.
Mayor Bloomberg said the surrounding area had been secured, with steam, electricity and gas all being shut off to prevent any additional damage should the crane’s boom come loose.