Jerry Speyer's Loss Gary Barnett's Gain on Far West Side

Jerry Speyer’s loss at the West Side rail yards seems to be working out pretty well for Gary Barnett.

With Mr. Speyer defeated—the chairman of Tishman Speyer Properties fumbled the $1 billion deal with the state to buy the site’s development rights in May, ultimately backing out of an agreement—so, too, has fallen his plan to raze a piece of a former elevated rail line that runs along the rail yards on 30th Street.

Enter Mr. Barnett.

The president of Extell Development is planning a 61-story Steven Holl-designed mixed-use tower on the northeast corner of 10th Avenue and 30th Street, from which he plans an elevated pedestrian bridge to the section of rail line.

That rail line section is a spur of the 1.5-mile High Line, the rail viaduct turned parkland that runs from Chelsea to the rail yards and has created a halo of rising property values at its perimeter. One would imagine that the building’s walkway to the spur, which itself is planned for parkland conversion now that Stephen Ross’ Related Companies has supplanted Tishman Speyer as the developer, would give a healthy boost to rents at the Extell building as well. Related has said it intends to preserve the spur.

So what will become of the spur?

The details are up to Related, and will be determined as it develops the rail yards; but Robert Hammond, co-founder of the group Friends of the High Line, said the space presents great design possibilities, as it is wider than much of the rest of the viaduct.

“There’s an opportunity for a public gathering space there,” he said.