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.
The Neverending Story
Each year around this time, Larry Silverstein invites the foreign press (plus any local outlets interested in attending) into his World Trade Center buildings, whatever stage of construction they might be in. It serves as a useful backdrop for the flood global coverage the 9/11 anniversary always attracts as well as an equally heartening and frustrating symbol of progress, sometimes halting, at the site. Maybe a new tenant will come out of it, too, which does not hurt.
Best Laid Plans
It was but one line in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City address in January, but it could prove to be one of the biggest of his dozen years in office.
“In the area around Grand Central, we’ll work with the City Council on a package of regulatory changes and incentives that will attract new investment, new companies and new jobs,” the mayor said from the stage inside Morris High School in the Bronx.
Hizzoner spent more time talking about Cornell’s Roosevelt Island tech campus, keeping the Hunt’s Point Produce Market from moving across the Hudson to Jersey and efforts to further expand the blue-collar workforce on the waterfront. Even the redevelopment of nearby East Fordham Road and Webster Avenue got equal billing with these vague pronouncements about “the area around Grand Central.”
Despite the scant mention, it turns out that for an administration that has never shied away from big plans, this may be one of the biggest projects yet.
The Neverending Story
The thunderstorm had just cleared over Manhattan on Monday morning as the topping out of 4 World Trade Center was about to get underway. Turning down Maiden Lane from Broadway, the 977-foot tower, looming over the space of the small street, glistened even more than usual, freshly polished by the rain.Even against a backdrop of dark clouds, the building, designed by Japanese Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki, blends in with the sky in a soothing way that almost makes the 72-story structure disappear. It is much lighter—and, in the estimation of The Observer, quite a bit nicer—than its big brother, also rising, across the 16-acre site.
“Welcome to the first tower that will open for business here at the World Trade Center site,” Janno Lieber, right-hand man to Larry Silverstein at ground zero, boomed into a microphone from the podium. It was the only note of competition throughout the festivities, even though everyone knew the smaller tower, while started three years later, had beaten its sibling to the top by at least a few days.
The Neverending Story
Two weeks ago, The Observer got a tour of 4 World Trade Center and called it the nicest building at ground zero, including videographic proof. The 72-story tower topped out today in a biggish ceremony (no presidents, governors or mayors were in attendance, though plenty of other local pols) led by the building’s developer, Larry Silverstein. Here is a video of the final column rising, with a full report to come later today.
The boom is back on the Far West Side.
In addition to the Related Companies and Brookfield’s work at Hudson Yards, and now Extell’s reappearance on the scene, Larry Silverstein is moving forward with a new 60-story residential tower on West 40th Street, according to The Real Deal. It will be on the same block as Mr. Silverstein’s twinned Silver Towers, which also rise to 60 stories, which should make for an interesting trio on the skyline.
Correction: A reader points out that this is simply a bus garage, not a bus station, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal would remain in operation. The Observer regrets the error.
The Port Authority has been desperate to replace its eponymous bus terminal near Times Square for at least a decade now. Vornado Realty was supposed to build a new office tower atop the terminal, which it would rebuild in the process, but after years of planning, that proposal collapsed.
Now, it turns out Larry Silverstein has quietly floated a plan to build a new terminal on West 39th Street, according to Crain’s, near the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, atop which Mr. Silversterin would build a new residential building.
Imagine, if you will, the landscape of New York City 15 years hence. A drive to Citi Field in Willets Point takes you past a pleasant if overpriced cluster of residential buildings, rather than seedy chop-shops. Roosevelt Island is home to a sprawling $2 billion applied-sciences campus spinning out an army of developers to populate ping-pong-table-clad start-up clusters from Dumbo to Union Square. On Manhattan’s far West Side, the rezoned stretch of Hudson Yards offers millions of square feet for office space, housing and retail and 14 acres of open public space. You can already see traces of a more built-up, scrubbed-down New York in Luna Park’s freshly-painted Scream Zone, the first new roller-coasters Coney Island has seen in 80 years, and the rapidly-metastasizing arena at Atlantic Yards, which will soon play home court to the rebranded Brooklyn Nets.
It’s hardly a scenario Seth Pinsky could have imagined in September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed just seven months into his tenure as president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a not-for-profit arm of the Mayor’s office charged with fostering economic growth across the five boroughs.
At the time, Mr. Pinsky was a 36-year-old former lawyer and investment analyst, only a few years removed from a private sector gig refinancing real estate deals for the big banks as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb. He had one big win under his belt—jump-starting the World Trade Center redevelopment project—but he didn’t have “a political bone in his body,” as one insider put it. “People kept saying to me, ‘Wow, you’re the head of the Economic Development Corporation? We’re in an economic meltdown!’’ Mr. Pinsky told The Observer.
“At the time it meant, ‘You must be really crazy.’”
While leasing activity for much of New York City in the past few months has been more lackluster than blockbuster, a sizable chunk of available space –sizable in the, say, 6 million square foot range– is on the cusp of hitting the market, The Wall Street Journal reports.
New developments like 1 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, and Edward Minskoff’s 51 Astor Place, are all slated to hit the market in 2013. The last time NYC had this much new space becoming available was in 1989, said Cassidy Turley’s Robert Sammons.
It’s the day after the Port Authority released an audit of the agency and Chris Ward is sitting calmly in his new office above Bryant Park.
Coming off of more than three years as its top New York executive, Mr. Ward has no illusions how the bi-state agency is run.
The audit last week cited mismanagement at the Port Authority and spiraling costs at the World Trade Center site, findings that aren’t exactly revelatory. Swelling budgets have been a long-running problem at the complex site and criticisms have been lobbed before at the sprawling agency’s byzantine structure.