Buoyed by the area’s burgeoning tech scene and growing residential market, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District this morning presented its third annual report to a room of brokers and indicated available commercial space in the district is sparse.
With more than 200 commercial office buildings offering upwards of 22 million square feet of rentable space, Flatiron’s overall vacancy rate sits at just 6.96 percent, with only 1.55 million square feet available for lease. The average price per square foot of that space hovers just below $50 at $49.10.
Michael Levoff‘s bosses have tended toward the conservative—he has served as a spokesman for Michael Bloomberg, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman—and so does his taste in real estate. The PR professional and current vice president for public affairs at the Partnership for New York, a network of the city’s top business leaders, just picked up a fifth-floor condo on the Upper East Side.
Mr. Levoff is also Neil Simon’s stepson (his mother, actress Elaine Joyce, is Mr. Simon’s fourth—or fifth, depending on how you count—wife), but he’ll be no Prisoner of Second Avenue: Mr. Levoff’s new pad is in the Touraine, a traditionally-styled but recently-erected Toll Brothers development at 132A East 65th Street on Lexington Avenue. (Nor will he be 45 Seconds from Broadway or Lost in Yonkers—in fact, he appears to have chosen his latest real estate move to be totally unpunable with regards to his stepfather’s New York-themed oeuvre.)
Who would want to live on the shores of a Superfund site? Maybe the better question is, who would want to own a place on one?
Toll Brothers killed their plan to build a new housing complex on the Gowanus Canal two years ago when the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency decreed the canal was toxic, despite protests and counter-proposals from the Bloomberg administration. That is why the news earlier this month that the Lighthouse Group was going to develop the site was so surprising. But part of the developer’s secret appears to be hundreds more units and renting them rather than selling them.
The Mysteries of Brooklyn
In 2004, just as Brooklyn was becoming a thing, McMansion developers Toll Brothers set their sites on an unusual location in the middle of the borough: the banks of the Gowanus Canal, one of the most heavily polluted corners of the city. After the public review process concluded, the plan was impeded by an unprecedented obstacle: the EPA announced it was adding the Gowanus canal to its Superfund list. And that’s when the Toll Brothers decided to scrap the plans.
But yesterday, Browstoner revealed a new development in the story, hearing that a rather unknown firm, The Lightstone Group, has intentions to take over the Toll Brothers site and build 700 new apartments there.
Our pal Elevator View (one of the best photo tweeters/bloggers in town) shot us this photo of new construction fencing going up at 400 Park Avenue South, suggesting that Christian de Portzamparc’s long-delayed crystalline apartment building will finally rise there starting this year.
on the waterfront
As expected, a team of Toll Brothers and Starwood Capital won the right to develop Pier 1 at Brooklyn Bridge Park today. They will be building a new hotel of 200 rooms and a neighboring apartment building with 159 units, a complex that peaks near Fulton Street entrance and sloping down toward the park. The project is designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, whom Toll has initially tapped, with Dumbo-based Bernheimer Architects apparently getting the boot. There will be no mash-up on the shore here.
on the waterfront
And then there were two, who might become one.
Next Tuesday, Brooklyn Bridge Park will decide on which of the three teams still vying for the Pier 1 development gets the right to turn the old dockland into hundreds of luxury apartments and hotel rooms. It appears there could be a partnership between two of the three of them to see the project through.
The residents of Carnegie Hill are not particularly experienced in protest techniques—they are more likely to walk through throngs of the demonstrators than to walk among them. But a new Toll Brothers development on Park Avenue has inspired angry Upper East Siders to take up the picket.
In a vertical city like New York, simple signs on sticks do not do much good, so neighbors have resorted to a more high-flying technique for their “visual protest” this morning, unfurling homemade banners from one of their buildings that read “Save Our History.”
“We’re all rookies at this, not professional protesters,” said Lucinda Ballard, who lives in 1112 Park Avenue, right next to the two pre-Civil War townhouses that the Philadelphia-based Toll Brothers is almost certainly planning to replace with a tower, but has thus far refused to confirm.
Toll Brothers is still pulling a “no comment” when it comes to rumors of a Carnegie Hill tower, but plans for something are certainly moving apace on Park Avenue.
The same limited liability corporation—89 Park Avenue LLC—that purchased 1110 Park Avenue for $16.5 million (10 percent more than the $14.9 million ask) has also closed on 1108 Park Avenue for $13 million. And 1108 wasn’t even listed for sale!
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
It turns out that Carnegie Hill residents are not so thrilled about whatever plans Philadelphia-based McMansion builder Toll Brothers might have for their neighborhood.
Following news that the builders, who have slowly been expanding their Manhattan presence, had closed on the purchase of a townhouse at 1110 Park Avenue and also had their eye on neighboring 1108 Park Avenue, Tolls’ new neighbors are trying to stop them.