Time Warner Inc. was rumored to be eyeing space at Hudson Yards as early as last spring, but only this month did the company confirm it would anchor Related Companies’ 30 Hudson Yards, an 80-story tower on the Far West Side. Concurrently, Related agreed to a deal to buy back the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle for $1.3 billion and will market space there for the first time since the building came online a decade ago. The complex deals, which include a significant financial commitment to Hudson Yards by Time Warner, are vital for the ambitious development and another victory for Related Chairman Stephen Ross, who has long championed the viability of his plans for the once-barren pocket of Manhattan.
Usually, buying from last year’s (or decade’s, as the case may be) rack will yield a significant discount off the retail price. Not so with New York City real estate—one investor is asking $75 million, precisely twice what they paid in 2008, for the 78th-floor penthouse at the Time Warner Center.
Time Warner may be Read More
Time Warner is not the only big fish cashing out on Columbus Circle. The Lincoln Square mega-development is also losing David Kwok Po Li, the CEO and chairman of Bank of East Asia and former Hong Kong politician, who has just sold his 72nd-floor condo. (Related honcho Kenneth Himmel also cleared out late last year.)
Nor is he the only one who stands to profit from the decision. While Time Warner is contemplating how much it could make by clearing out of its headquarters, a process that might well set off a bidding war, Mr. Li did very, very well, doubling his money in under a decade.
Apparently, we aren’t the only ones who have wondered what Christopher Gray’s favorite buildings are. In this week’s Streetscapes column, Mr. Gray admits that he’s frequently asked to name them. After all, an architectural historian who spends so much time not only staring at edifices, but researching their histories must have developed some Read More
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.
The sky may be the limit when it comes to constructing cloud-skimming Manhattan luxury condos, but when a storm strikes, it’s the sidewalks below that developers need to worry about. In the last month, our eyes and cameras were fearfully focused on One57′s dangling crane boom, but it’s not the first time that high winds have made it mortally dangerous to walk beneath an under-construction skyscraper. Back in April 2004, a freakish wind storm—gusts of 34 mph were recorded in Central Park—dislodged construction material from an upper floor of the still-under-construction Time Warner Center.
Perhaps the most remarkable difference between the two incidents was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reaction. In the case of the Time Warner Center, he chastised the developer and ordered work stopped immediately. After the One57 incident, he defended Extell, noting that high wind gusts often cause blameless accidents (which, to be fair, may well be the case and gusts during Sandy did reach 60 mph).
Can we really blame Kenneth A. Himmel for wanting to put the Time Warner Center behind him? The President and CEO of Related Urban spent years overseeing the skyscraper’s construction, then he moved into a three-bedroom condo on the 67th floor.
“Developing Time Warner Center was like climbing the mountain of mountains,” Mr. Himmel declares on Related’s website. We guess he also tired of climbing that same mountain day after day, even if it was in a super-sleek high-speed elevator. After more than a decade, the bloom was off the rose.
It has been, thus far, a year of almost incandescent hopes for the Manhattan luxury market. The $88 million sale at 15 CPW, the $70 million sale at the Ritz Carlton and rising like a beacon to the south, the unfinished One57 tower, with a penthouse in contract for more than $90 million.
Indeed, the market has burned so brightly for the owners of trophy and would-be and could-possibly-be trophy properties that it may even have blinded a few to the realities of the real estate market—while it could be described as magical, it is not magic. Is One57 a rising tide that will lift all boats (yachts?) or an ultra-luxury development that most other buildings breaking the skyline can’t compete with in finishes or prices? Or even worse: a view-blocker, shadow-caster and general reminder that places like the Time Warner Center and the Trump International are not as new as they once were?
The Shvo Show
You can watch Creflo Dollar and his wife Taffi spreading the Word of God on TV seven days a week, but one place you won’t see the televangelists any more is at their 25 Columbus Circle condo.
The Dollars, preachers of the prosperity gospel and leaders of Georgia-based World Changers Church, have sold the two-bedroom condo on the 67th floor of the Time Warner Center for $3.75 million, according to city records.
Did power broker Michael Shvo forget to check the references on his $6.5 million dollar apartment-sitting application?
It appears so!