the planning game
With the New York City mayor’s race not even past the Democratic primary, it’s a bit early to be handicapping the city’s next chief city planner, but where’s the fun in being coy?
Crain’s has taken a look at who might fill the post, which it calls “perhaps more important than any deputy mayor position at City Hall,” arriving at a short list that includes names ranging from Vishaan Chakrabarti, a consummate real estate industry insider and former director of the Manhattan office of the Department of City Planning, to the more community-minded Anna Levin, a member of the City Planning Commission and the chair of Manhattan Community Board 4′s Land Use Commission during most of the 2000s.
In the Rezone
With the 7 train extension set to see its first train at 34th Street and 11th Avenue next June, developers are rushing to line up financing and break ground on millions of square feet in new projects. The New York Times took a look over the weekend at the progress at Hudson Yards, but they buried some news deep within the story: at least one landowner—Silverstein Properties, which owns a 90,000-square foot site at 41st Street and 11th Avenue—wants zoning rules changed to allow it to build more housing and less office space.
For an area with poor transit links, the desire to shift from commercial to residential is not surprising. Though there will be a new subway station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, successful office locations generally require not only transit, but redundant transit.
Manhattan West too corporate? Far West Side too bland? Clinton too anodyne? Hell’s Kitchen too imprecise?
“You’ve heard of NoMad, NoLita, and NoHo,” writes Bisnow. “Well, get used to ‘NoChe.’ ” (We’d prefer not to!) “It stands for North Chelsea, pronounced a touch exotically”—because nothing screams exótico like millions of square feet of shimmering class A office space!—”like the Spanish word for ‘night.’ It’s how insiders are referring to the dramatic new area being forged by Brookfield and Related on the Far West Side.”
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The planned conversion of the Beaux-Arts Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue into Amtrak’s “Moynihan Station” has always been more about real estate and architecture than transportation, spurred by the city’s desperate search for atonement after the destruction of the old Penn Station. Former Amtrak President David Gunn didn’t mince words when he told Bloomberg News in 2011 that the project is “controlled by a bunch of rich developers.”
And Related Companies doesn’t seem to be doing anything to disabuse us of that notion. The New York Times reported that Stephen Ross has yet another trick up his sleeve to revive the stalled project: he wants the Borough of Manhattan Community College to move into Moynihan Station.
For the second time in as many months, Mayor Michael Bloomberg trekked out the Far West Side for a groundbreaking on a major new development built over a set of railroad tracks. While Brookfield’s Manhattan West is not quite as big as The Related Company’s Hudson Yards, in its size and scale and heft and sheer exclamation of the arrival of this once derelict corner of the city, the project measures up pound for pound. Some 5.4 million square feet of offices and housing and shopping on not much more than one city block.
“With today’s groundbreaking, we’re taking a major step forward in the transformation and rebirth of the Far West Side of Manhattan,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said from the podium at the corner of 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue.
On a recent evening at the 92nd Street Y, Stephen Ross, chairman of the Related Companies, reflected on four decades of transformation—for the city, where he has built more apartments than almost any other developer of his generation, and also for himself. In September, Mr. Ross, 72, stepped down as the CEO of the once-humble affordable housing outfit he transformed into a luxury real estate behemoth.
Not that he’s stepping aside. There he was a few weeks later, alongside Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn on the formerly desolate Far West Side, breaking ground on the Hudson Yards project, a glass and steel city within a city that is actually larger, in terms of square footage, than downtown Portland or downtown Baltimore.
Mr. Ross' Neighborhood
Earlier this week, the Related Companies announced it had found backers to begin building the first tower of its Hudson Yards project (at the same time that it is trying to get a break from the MTA for payments on the entire 16-acre complex). Should the project get off the ground, it will have a long way to go.
Sure, in terms of time, as it will takes years, if not decades, for the entire 12 million square feet of office, residential, retail and cultural space to be built. But there is also a long way to go in terms of distance. As the design team puts the finishing touches on the first phase of the project, it turns out the other office tower on the site, which has yet to find an anchor tenant or an announced start date, will become the second or third tallest building in the city when it is completed, surpassing the Empire State Building.
Battle of the Skyscrapers
Citigroup owns some of the most iconic office buildings in the city. Not only is there its headquarters at 601 Lexington, with its jagged roof and gravity-defying base, but also Queens’s tallest tower and a waterfront monolith in Tribeca. As Citi prepares to leave that last home and go in search of some 2.6 million square feet, the Journal reveals that “Citigroup managers had discussions with several landlords about developing a new tower for the company.” While the bankers just as well might stay put at 388 Greenwich, this got us thinking about exactly what on-the-horizon towers Citi could wind up in.
five ring circus
Dan Doctoroff, Olympic dreamer, got to attend an opening ceremony for the games this summer, even if it was not the one he had hoped for. It was from London, where Mr. Doctoroff was taking in the 2012 summer Olympics, that he fired off an email to his friends declaring “feelings of ‘what might have been’ are curiously absent.”
The Times got a hold of this email, where the former deputy mayor for economic development and current head of Bloomberg LP goes on to say that even without them, the Olympic bid was good for New York.
In our recent profile of Gary Barnett, The Observer included a litany of things done by Extell that Mr. Barnett considers to be “the best.” It is easily his favorite phrase, so a number of these superlatives were left on the editing room floor—the piece would have been twice as long, otherwise.
One of those “bests” was 500 West 34th Street, previously known as the World Product Centre. “It’s the best site in all of Hudson Yards,” Mr. Barnett told us at the time. “It’s overlooking everything, and it’s right on top of the new subway.”
That is almost exactly what he told the Post‘s Steve Cuozzo in revealing that the project is back on. So singular is the project Extell is now calling it One Hudson Yards. As you can imagine, the developer across the street actually developing the 26-acre megadevelopment of the same name was none too pleased with the announcement.