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.
Mr. Ross' Neighborhood
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.
Battle of the Skyscrapers
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.
five ring circus
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.
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.
Mr. Ross' Neighborhood
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.
Mr. Ross' Neighborhood
It may be bigger than Baltimore or Stamford, and it will probably be prettier, too. The plans for Hudson Yards continue to impress, as the office towers get refined and high-profile firms sign up to do the residential buildings. The first big news was that High Line designers Diller Scofidio + Renfro would be responsible for one of the apartment buildings, and now The Observer has learned that none other than money-minting godhead Robert A.M. Stern is designing another.
Steve Ross has actually been a regular client of Mr. Stern’s in the past.
Stat of the Week
Steve Ross sure knows his way around City Hall (part of the reason he has become one of the most successful developers of his generation). From his start in affordable housing to megadevelopments like the Time Warner Center, Hunter’s Point South in Queens and Hudson Yards, Mr. Ross, chairman of the Related Companies, always seems to get just what he wants when the city is involved. One sore spot was the fight over the Kingsbridge Armory, in the Bronx, which was unexpectedly rejected by the City Council three years ago.
The fight centered around whether workers at the armory project, which was to receive a considerable amount of public subsidies, would have to be paid more than minimum wage, something labor unions were lobbying heavily for. That fight led to the eventual proposal of a living wage bill. In an unexpected, if unsurprising, twist, it now turns out City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has carved a portion of Hudson Yards out of the living wage bill, according to The Times.
Mr. Ross' Neighborhood
The number of Manhattan buildings with at least 100,000 square feet of (potential) availability (contiguous or noncontiguous) has climbed over the past year to 82 from 77, though it is down from 84 two years ago. The figures quoted are a catch-all including space currently vacant, known to have a tenant moving out or that is new construction with a completion date.
As if there was not enough anticipation surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, here is probably the one reason to trump any other: Danny Meyer will be setting up shop on the Far West Side.
The Related Companies and Union Square Hospitality announced a new partnership today, whereby Steve Ross and his globetrotting development company will take a stake in Union Square Events. While not encompassing all of the restauranteurs operations, USE offers more than just catering but also runs the sports venue operations for Mr. Meyers sprawling eatery empire, and now it will do even more. So no fine dining, necessarily, but Mr. Meyer will be offering a range of culinary options, from private residential dining to catering events in Hudson Yards buildings as well as operating restaurants and outdoor cafes.