Friday, August 12, 2011

Officials Work to Complete Proposal for New UN tower

As city and state officials work to complete a proposal that would pave the way for a new tower for the United Nations ahead of an October deadline, developer Sheldon Solow has offered alternative development options, including building the spire on his nine-acre site, just south of the United Nations. The prognosis is not good..

Last week, he met with elected officials to propose that either he could erect the new United Nations building on a site he owns just south of the United Nations, or he could do it on the Robert Moses Playground, just across East 42nd Street from the United Nations along First Avenue. In that case, Mr. Solo is proposing that he would relocate the playground to his site..

Mr. Solow had proposed constructing a building for the Untied Nations a few years ago, but is raising it again presumably because current plans being advanced do not involve the nine acres he owns along First Avenue, just below the international body. His plan to construct seven towers on his property appears to have stalled..

Mr. Solow is one of the city's oldest and most successful developers, whose holdings include the renowned 9 West 57th Street, an address favored by many hedge funds and investment firms..

It's unlikely Mr. Solow's ideas will get much traction with local officials because he has failed to provide them with any specifics. Also, under their plan the United Nations would buy the Robert Moses Playground and the proceeds would then be used to help finance construction of a waterfront promenade that would fill in a 21-block-long gap in the current East River walkway. The proposal also includes selling two city-owned buildings to raise money to construct the promenade. If Mr. Solow prevails, there would be no money for the promenade..

If the city and state officials finish the memorandum, it would be delivered to the United Nations for consideration. The organization would have to vote on any proposal, but it is unclear when that would happen. .

The United Nations is slated to discuss its real estate needs this fall, and supports the idea of a new building. But a spokesman for the Secretary General of the United Nations, said this fall will be an exceptionally busy time - with a debate and expected vote on whether Palestine should be recognized as a sovereign state - so it is unlikely there would be a vote on a proposal, but didn't rule it out.