Monday, April 30, 2012

Condo to Rise on Former Ratner's Site off Delancey

The Lower East Side will be getting a new condominium at 100 Norfolk St., just north of Delancey Street on the site owned by Ratner's, the famous kosher dairy restaurant that closed in 2002.  The dilapidated 7,000-square-foot building on the site will be razed, and soon sprout an ultra-modern condominium.

 The 7,000-square-foot building presently on the site was owned by Ratner's which used it for the company's offices and refrigerators. When Ratner's closed, the Norfolk building became obsolete. A previous deal for the property fell through because the buyer was unable to line up a needed partner and financing. At another point there was talk of a hotel rising on the site.

Recently, the property finally found an all-cash buyer, who paid $8.8 million. Real estate on the  The Lower East Side is now hot, so hot that the purchase price was 6% above the asking level. According to public records, the new owner is Brooklyn-based Urban-Scape.

The new owner will demolish the present structure and replace it with a residential development of up to 44,000 square feet.

One reason why it took so long to sell 100 Norfolk St. is because it was located in a part of the Lower East Side that was rezoned in 2008 to limit building heights to 120 feet. The restriction made the property a tougher sell. The new owner did a lot of leg work, and because it owns adjoining parcels, was able to work out a way to transfer air rights to the new development.

Prior to the area's rezoning, Blue, a 16-story, 32-unit condo building designed by Bernard Tschumi was erected across the street at 105 Norfolk St. That project, which was criticized by the community for its size, is on the former site of Ratner's parking lot.
Ironically, 100 Norfolk St. is where Blue had its sales office and showroom. Apartments at Blue have sold for an average of $1,172 per square foot, despite the many neighbors who consider the building an eyesore.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Era for The Pyramid on West 57 Street

Dutch architect Bjarke Ingel’s new apartment project for Durst Fetner is probably the most exciting new project in at least a generation. The pyramid apartment building slated for 625 West 57th Street off the Hudson River, is immediately creating a sensation.

Not only is this an entirely new building typology—a smallscale-meets-high-rise residential building the likes, and shape, of which the city has never seen—but the fact that it is being pursued after the bursting (at least temporarily) of the city’s real estate bubble demonstrates that architecture is not, in fact, dead, as many had feared.

Durst Fetner Residential announced that it is officially moving forward with the stunning 600-unit rental project designed by BIG - Bjarke Ingel Group.

And stunning it is. The building is a mash-up of European and New York styles, combining a short, blocky apartments-around-a-courtyard model with a high-rise tower. The result is a sloping structure that maximizes harbor views not only for those inside the building but also the neighbors whose sightlines might also be obstructed.

It is one of the grand victories of West Side redevelopment, from the Village to Chelsea to West Harlem, that not only new housing is being built, but it is being built inside bold architecture.

In fact, this is yet another paradigm shift, as so many of those magnificent buildings, like Nouvel’s 100 11th and Gehry’s Beekman Tower in the Financial District are really just the same old apartment buildings sheathed in facade finery.

This building is an entirely new shape, a new way of living and building.

Whether we see another like it remains to be seen, but the very existance of this property, and Christian de Portzamparc’s Riverside South for Extell just to the north, is a sign of a promising future.
Still, the Dursts know they are doing something special on this site. After all, they told us they would be pursuing the same high-level of sustainable design at another development site Durst Fetner controls on Sixth Avenue between 30th and 31st streets.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Approval for $1B Development of ‘The Modern’

Fort Lee Redevelopment Associates, in partnership with real estate developer SJP Residential Properties, has secured approval to develop The Modern, an extraordinary, residential development highlighted by two 47-story, iconic towers that will rise in the center of Fort Lee, New Jersey. The development will offer majestic views and exceptional amenities, features and services, and transform Fort Lee into a premier destination for luxury living.

Each of The Modern’s two 47-story, all glass towers will contain 451 luxury rental apartments featuring a mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences that offer spectacular views of the Hudson River, New York City skyline, George Washington Bridge and the surrounding landscape. Construction is expected to commence later this summer.

The towers, situated on a nearly eight-acre site, are to be located at 100 and 800 Park Avenue (formerly known as Martha Washington Way), immediately south of the entrance to the George Washington Bridge.

Total price tage for the project is expected to reach nearly $1 billion.

The Modern will feature an unprecedented 70,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor resort-style amenities in each tower for the enjoyment of its residents. The amenities areas will feature a spacious, state-of-the-art fitness centers and separate yoga and Pilates studios. A Spa in each tower will include a community sauna and offer massage services. Residents will be able to relax in the designer lounge areas which will offer breakfast and also be available for catered events. Additional indoor amenities include a spacious screening room, a sophisticated golf simulation program, and a “tween” room with a Nintendo Wii station. An Internet lounge with available snacks is also planned for each tower where residents can hook up their laptop computers to available WiFi and printers.

Outdoor amenities on the fifth level of each tower include a spectacular infinity pool surrounded by chaise lounges. Volleyball and basketball courts are available for games with friends or fellow residents. Expansive rolling lawn areas will feature outdoor movies during summer evenings. Individual and community barbecue stations will offer an opportunity for residents to enjoy a taste of outdoor cooking any time of the day. The Modern will have covered dog walking areas and pet spas. Separate indoor and outdoor children’s play areas will be created for the community’s youngest residents. A large indoor parking garage will be conveniently located adjoining each tower.

The Modern’s grand, two-story lobbies will feature 24/7 concierge and doorman service as well as package and dry cleaning reception and refrigerated storage availability. The buildings will offer free WiFi access in all community areas. Each tower will be wired for clear cellular phone service throughout.

Each of The Modern’s 902 spacious residences will feature open floor plans and high ceilings highlighted by floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer breathtaking views. Luxury appointments include oak hardwood floors, walk-in closets, and beautiful stone bath and powder rooms. Open kitchens are designed with beauty and functionality in mind. Washers and dryers will be included in every home. Energy efficient heating and cooling systems with remote thermostat controls will be standard in each residence.

The Modern’s residences will be available for occupancy beginning in the summer of 2014. The two towers will rise between a 1-3/4 acre landscaped public park that will include water features and walking paths reminiscent of Central Park in New York City. The park will also host a 7,000-square-foot restaurant with indoor and open-air dining, as well as a refreshment kiosk. Additionally, FLRA will develop at 13,000-square-foot building to be donated to the Borough of Fort Lee, which will house a large public theater and a public museum.

The Modern is part of a larger mixed-use redevelopment of a 16-acre site adjacent to the George Washington Bridge that will contain 165,000 square feet of retail in an adjoining development parcel to the west of FLRA’s site in addition to (2) restaurants, snack kiosk, (2) multi-screen movie theaters, museum and public park.

The Modern is a continuation of SJP’s strong track record developing some of the New York metropolitan area’s most successful luxury residential and commercial projects. The company’s more recent notable residential and mixed-use developments include 45 Park Avenue on Manhattan’s East Side, and the 43-story Platinum on Eighth Avenue and 46th Street in New York City, both of which are completely sold out. During his extensive career, Goldman was also instrumental in the development of The Palisades in Fort Lee, a 538-unit luxury rental building, as well as The Shipyard in Hoboken, Portside Towers in Jersey City and the redevelopment of Port Liberte in Jersey City.

Friday, April 27, 2012

1 WTC to Become City's Tallest Next Week

As One World Trade Center inches closer to replacing the Empire State as the tallest building in New York, a newly released time-lapse video documents the building's epic construction, from inception to what it is today in just two minutes.

The video, produced by EarthCam, captures 1 World Trade's historic rise, which is expected to hit a major milestone to surpass the Empire State building's 1,454 feet as early as Monday.

1 World Trade Center is slated to complete construction at the end of 2013 and will stand at 1,776 feet tall.

Riverhouse Developer Admits to $2M Fraud

Two executives at real estate development and management firm Sheldrake Organization have pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to fraudulently obtain $2.2 million from its lender, a foreign-owned bank, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced. The additional money was for the $573 million Riverhouse condominium project in Battery Park City.

Sheldrake President J. Christopher Daly, and Michael Abreu, its director of asset management, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. They face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Sheldrake won a competitive bid back in 2004 to build Riverhouse, a 258-unit luxury condo project located at 1 River Terrace.

“Christopher Daly and Michael Abreu carried out a duplicate invoice scheme in which they exploited a bank to secure an additional $2 million for their development project,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in a statement. “They ended up on the losing side of their real estate scheme and will now be punished for their crime.”

Since 2006, when Sheldrake began construction of the $573 million Riverhouse, the developer struggled to make payments to the Battery Park City Authority, the New York state public-benefit corporation in charge of development and maintenance of the neighborhood. Sheldrake struggled to make timely payments to the Battery Park City Authority and failed to ever pay its balance in full, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In 2007, Messrs. Daly and Abreu submitted duplicate invoice from the Battery Park City Authority to its lender, which funded the invoice and continued to do so for future invoices that were already paid. The lender wired monies to Sheldrake's bank account.

“Postal Inspectors will vigorously pursue and bring to justice those individuals who use the U.S. Mail in the furtherance of criminal schemes against financial institutions, both foreign and domestic,” said Ronald Verrochio, New York USPIS Inspector-in-Charge, in a statement.

According to published reports, Sheldrake was removed as managing member by its partner on the project, a Lehman Brothers partnership, two years ago. Centurion Real Estate Partners assumed control of the 32-story tower.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Construction Firm Guilty of Record Fraud

A federal prosecutor announced Tuesday afternoon that Lend Lease Construction has agreed to a pay up to $56 million in penalties for a decade-long overbilling scheme on a number of projects across the city. As a result of its admission of guilt, the company formerly known as Bovis Lend Lease will avoid prosecution. It is seen as the largest construction fraud settlement in the city's history.

Additionally, James Abadie, the former principal in charge of Bovis' New York office, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. Mr. Abadie faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000.

The penalties will go toward the federal government and restitution to victims. The company also agreed to implement far-reaching corporate reforms designed to prevent future fraud and to promote best practices.

For a ten year time span ending in 2009, the company along with others devised a scheme to defraud federal, state and local government contracting agencies as well as private clients. The company intentionally and fraudulently billed clients for hours that were not worked by labor foremen from Local 79. They did so by “falsely representing in billing requisitions, certified payrolls and other documents submitted by Bovis,” according to federal investigation documents. In the settlement, Bovis admitted to these practices.

Bovis was one of the largest construction companies in the city. Three years ago it boasted 1,000 employees here. It also worked on a number of big projects across the city as a construction manager. Among them were Citi Field, the renovation of Grand Central Terminal and the Deutsche Bank building demolition.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ground Breaking Close as American Dream Awaits Permits

Money may be the only thing standing in the way of the long-awaited American Dream Meadowlands project, the $3.7 billion shopping and entertainment complex adjacent to the Izod center. Developers are reported to be close to a federal signoff on their plans to add water and amusement parks at the site of the redevelopment once known as Xanadu.

Governor Christie speaking last May at a news event touting the new plan to develop American Dream Meadowlands, on the site that once was to have been the Xanadu entertainment complex. Governor Christie speaking last May at a news event touting the new plan to develop American Dream Meadowlands, on the site that once was to have been the Xanadu entertainment complex.

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote that it would “continue to object” to the proposed expansion until a formal wetlands- mitigation plan is submitted and approved.

A spokesman for Triple Five, the operators of Mall of America in Minnesota and would-be operators of American Dream, said Friday that the company had “within the last 24 to 48 hours” responded to environmental questions as part of a 196-page submission to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The corps — which later Friday confirmed receipt of the information — has authority over permits involving development that intrudes on U.S. waterways.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — the landlord for the project — has yet to submit an environmental impact statement that was due in February. That delay means that an advisory report on the proposal from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Meadowlands Commission won’t meet an today’s deadline.

The delays likely will push resumption of construction on the project, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, beyond the spring time frame that the developers set out late last year.

“It’s frustrating for a lot of people, especially those looking for work, and we share that frustration,” Marcus said. But he added that the timetable of opening most of the original retail and entertainment sections of the project in time for the Feb. 2, 2014, Super Bowl at the Meadowlands remains unchanged.

The lag in closing the deal echoes earlier struggles that have turned the project into the butt of jokes — and stoked skepticism by North Jersey residents who regularly drive past the much-derided multicolored façade near the New Jersey Turnpike. Earlier incarnations of the stalled project were derailed by delays and economic setbacks over the past decade.

So 11 months after an elaborate press conference at the site featuring Governor Christie and an extensive press tour of the interior, Triple Five has yet to take over the site from a group of the project’s major lenders. A new round of financing — totaling $1.7 billion and, for the first time, involving public sources — also has not been finalized.

Christie predicted recently that American Dream would follow in the footsteps of the Revel casino in Atlantic City, another long-stalled multibillion-dollar project that finally opened for business last week.

“I think you’ll see the same kind of progress up north regarding the American Dream project,” he said. “We’re in the final throes of negotiations there.”

Stalled by water park

At issue on the environmental side is Triple Five’s plan for an indoor water and amusement park complex on a 22-acre tract that sits between the New Jersey Turnpike and the existing multicolored project.

Last fall, a subsidiary of Triple Fall applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for the permissions needed to build on 5-plus acres of wetlands that are part of that site.

In her Dec. 21, 2011, letter to the corps, Judith Enck, regional administrator for the EPA, asked whether the new attractions could be placed elsewhere on the site, whether a less intrusive plan could be devised to lessen impact on the wetlands and whether further road improvements might be required near the attractions.

Marcus described such qualms by the EPA as “practically boilerplate” in response to preliminary proposals that have not yet offered detailed mitigation plans.

Chris Mallery, a regulatory officer for the corps, said that American Dream has several options, including buying credits at wetlands mitigation banks — offsite locations where work is being done to restore wetlands. That would result in the preservation of other environmentally sensitive areas in the region to offset the disturbance of wetlands at the American Dream site.

Mallery said that representatives of American Dream have been consulting with the agency over the last several months. But, he noted, because the paperwork had just been submitted, the agency had not yet done a thorough review of the company’s application.

Wetlands projects such as at American Dream also need a go-ahead from other federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Jeff Tittel, the executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club and a longtime critic of the Meadowlands project, said that while he originally expected the American Dream permitting process to be concluded by last month, he isn’t too surprised by the delays. “These things are never as easy as developers think they are on paper,” Tittel said.

The original developer of Xanadu, the Mills Corp., ran into financial trouble in 2005.

Colony Capital took over in late 2006, but work on the project again ground to a halt in March 2009 when promised project financing dried up. A group of lenders for the project took control of the site that summer, but little progress has been made since then.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

App Aims to Make Wolf Whistle a Sound of the Past

Exasperated by the wolf whistles and cat calls that seem to be the universal welcome for women passing construction sites? New York City will have an app for that. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, said on Tuesday that $20,000 in city funding has been approved for development of a mobile-phone application to fight sexual harassment on the streets and subways.

It will be developed by the creators of, a website that asks people to use camera phones to take a photo or video of their harasser and post it online. The new app is expected to work in a similar fashion but could also alert authorities to particularly egregious offenders.

"Harassers out there take note - We're going to know who you are, where you are, what you said and how many times you said it," Quinn told reporters. "The days of thinking you can make life uncomfortable for women and girls are going to be over through old-fashioned girl power and 21st Century technology."

Research to develop the app is still underway but it will likely feed information into a collection center.

Review of the data may lead to sensitivity training for workers in particularly offending professions or for residents of badly behaved neighborhoods, she said. The most offensive data may be funneled to the New York City Police Department.

"Sometimes catcalling can be harassment or aggravated harassment," Quinn said. "It's a complete violation of someone's right to exist freely and safely in this city and it is also a terrible message to young boys that this is the way grown men conduct themselves."

Monday, April 23, 2012

New York University to Build Urban Sciences Center

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority forges a $50 million deal with New York University, to clear the way for conversion of a largely vacant downtown Brooklyn office building into a new tech and science center. After months of negotiations, the move will turn an underused, run-down office building in downtown Brooklyn into an applied sciences research institute.

NYU will pay the MTA $50 million to gain control of 370 Jay St., a 459,000-square-foot office building which the school will convert to its Center for Urban Science and Progress. The MTA has a long-term lease on the city-owned building and houses communications equipment there. NYU's payment will cover the costs of moving equipment and staff to the basement of the building.

NYU will pay an additional $10 million to move the New York Police Department, which occupies a portion of 370 Jay St., out of the building. In return, the city agreed to provide up to $15 million in benefits to NYU, including public funds and tax and energy abatements to help offset some of the project costs.

“Over the next five years, 370 Jay St. will be transformed into a cutting-edge center for research and science that will give another huge boost to our city's economy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. Brooklyn business leaders and Borough President Marty Markowitz have pushed the MTA for years to find a use for the building that would benefit the downtown area, which is the city's third largest business district.

The deal with NYU represents a largely expected bonus to the mayor's ballyhooed tech-campus competition. After the city chose Cornell late last year as the big winner in December, forking over $100 million in cash and prime land for the Ithaca-based university to build an applied sciences graduate school on Roosevelt Island, officials quickly turned their focus to NYU. Its proposal for a campus in downtown Brooklyn fit nicely with visions by the city and borough boosters to create a thriving tech hub in the area.

Money was the sticking point. The MTA controls the site via a master lease and has the right to stay in the building for $1 a year as long as it is using it. The negotiations hinged on how much it would cost to move or replace it. NYU was said to have initially offered about $20 million, but the MTA asked for more.

“Everyone at the MTA is proud that the building will be repurposed as…a new business and science incubator in downtown Brooklyn,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota.

Under the deal, NYU will have six months to conduct due diligence to confirm the costs associated with renovating the property, which has been underused for about a decade. If all goes well, the MTA and NYPD will begin moving in the fall, and NYU will complete renovations by 2017. NYU will spend up to $750 per square foot on the renovation.

In the meantime, the university will lease up to 60,000 square feet of space elsewhere in downtown Brooklyn and in September 2013 will accept its first class at the new center, which it calls CUSP for short. The school is a partnership between NYU and NYU-Poly and some of the world's leading academic institutions and private companies. It will focus on research and development of technology to address challenges facing cities, including infrastructure, tech integration, energy efficiency, traffic and public health.

The university is teaming up with the City University of New York, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Toronto, the University of Warwick and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Industry partners include IBM, Cisco, Consolidated Edison, Siemens and Xerox.

NYU named Steven Koonin—a theoretical physicist who was undersecretary of energy and science at the U.S. Dept. of Energy, a chief scientist at British oil giant BP and long-time provost at the California Institute of Technology—as CUSP's inaugural director.

With the NYU deal inked, the city can now turn its attention to other tech-campus proposals. A spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp. said additional winners could still be chosen. Proposals by Columbia University and a team of Carnegie Mellon University and Steiner Studios are still in play.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nine Story Condo Project Breaks Ground in SoHo

The corner of Grand and Wooster Streets in SoHo  will soon be the site of a new nine-story, 45,000-square-foot, residential condominium project. The building’s architectural detailing and materials have been selected to produce a contemporary counterpoint to the cast iron architecture of the 19th century landmark district.
Excavators have started clearing ground to install foundations for the stack of new condos to be built at 27 Wooster Street, one of SoHo's last big parking lots at the southwest intersection with Grand Street.

The plan is from architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates for developer The Stawski Group, and will comprise of 16 units over eight floors with penthouse. The walls overlooking the lot at 27 Wooster have been an artistic platform for many years.

The design from KPF is a modern take on classic SoHo cast iron construction, but done here more minimally in metal, stone and glass. It's all set atop a base of stone and steel, where two retail units will run along Grand Street with parking for ten tucked away inside.

On the residential floors above, oversized panes of glass will predominate, ala the ultra-modern 40 Mercer a few blocks to the east. The windows at 27 Wooster Street will be separated by thin metal columns, with perforated metal-mesh panels down low, for privacy.

Topping it all will be a duplex penthouse, set back and surrounded by a stone terrace with an outdoor pool, all within shouting distance of Justin Timberlake's rooftop lair around the corner at the SoHo Mews.

The buildings will be ready for occupancy by March 2014.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Building Development Heats Up on Brooklyn Waterfront

The tide of development is rising along the Brooklyn waterfront, from Sunset Park all the way up to Williamsburg, with dozens of developers are ready to break ground on new construction projects throughout the Borough.
Riding the momentum, Douglaston Development plans to start work in the late spring on a 509-unit luxury rental tower in Williamsburg dubbed 1 North 4th Place. The $300 million project is situated on a vacant -waterfront lot next door to The Edge, the company's two-tower development that hit the market three years ago with a total of 565 condominiums.

Half a dozen blocks south, CPC Resources Inc. hopes to finally get started on its 2,200-unit, $2 billion redevelopment of the huge old Domino Sugar factory on the river. Meanwhile, five miles downstream at Brooklyn Bridge Park below Brooklyn Heights, three developers are in the running for the right to build a combination hotel and condominium project.

Nearby in Dumbo, developers including one of the nation's largest homebuilders—Toll Brothers—have put up three residential buildings with 209 units, all within a stone's throw of the shoreline.
Down in Sunset Park, the development is of a different sort. There, at the historic 16-building, century-old Bush Terminal, Salmar Properties got the nod from the city to develop a massive, long--shuttered warehouse - known as Federal Building #2 - for light manufacturing.

A mending local economy has much to do with all these projects, as do long-running efforts by the Bloomberg administration.

To get this far, City Hall has used a variety of tools, none more powerful than a sweeping rezoning of 175 blocks of Greenpoint and Williamsburg that paved the way nearly seven years ago for high-rise residential towers along the waterfront.

A number of other initiatives have helped as well. Last year, the city committed $9 million to turn year-round ferry service on the East River into a reality. Today, that ferry links Greenpoint, north Williamsburg, south Williamsburg and Long Island City with Manhattan. The New York Waterway's WaterTaxi has been incredibly helpful in making north Brooklyn a more attractive place to live and work.

Similarly, the Bush Terminal project is unfolding within a larger, city-led effort to modernize the Sunset Park waterfront. The push includes upgrading roads, piers and rail access. However, aged infrastructure in formerly industrial waterfront areas is only one of several obstacles developers face. Building so close to the shoreline brings special engineering challenges as well

An even bigger hurdle has been community resistance.

The Domino Sugar project, for example, is proceeding only after six years of planning, hearings and legal challenges. To move forward, developers CPC Resources Inc. and Isaac Katan had to expand a substantial affordable-housing component and lop six stories off the two 40-story towers designed by architect Rafael Viñoly.

For developers as well as city officials, the struggle is worth it.

Making use of the waterfront, however, requires money, a factor that more than any other has held back development since the financial collapse in 2008. Even today, the lingering effects of that can be seen in the marked preference of residential developers and their lenders for rental apartments over condominiums.

Conversely, making 1 North 4th Place a rental building gave developer Douglaston more flexibility in case of another market downturn. Developers have only so much flexibility on the sale price of condominiums because they get to sell them just once. Rents, however, can be far more easily tailored to the market.

In the end, he insists that demographic pressures being what they are in the city, more housing will need to be built, and much of it will come on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NYC's First Solar-Powered Brownstone Comes to Brooklyn

A local alternative-energy company is creating the city’s first solar-powered brownstone in the tree-lined Brooklyn neighborhood. Voltaic Solaire is gut renovating a century-old brownstone as part of a $1 million project that will create six rental units, a lounge and a restaurant — all powered by the sun.

The site at 367 Fifth Ave., near Fifth Street, will be fully powered by a 15,000-watt solar- panel system on its rooftop and terrace awnings, providing all electric, heat and hot water on site. “It’s a one-of-a-kind project,” said Ron Faia, a co-owner of Voltaic Solaire.

Apartment rents will run from $1,600 to $2,600 monthly, but there will be big savings on energy costs.

Construction - which began last week - is expected to be completed early in 2013. The historic facade will remain intact.

The company, later this year, is set to open the nation’s first mixed-use, solar- and wind-powered development, which it is nearing completion on Hamilton Avenue in Carroll Gardens.

The sleek, five-story triangular building, called “The Delta” will feature a bed and breakfast business and restaurant. The building is partly skinned with 1,700 square feet of amber- and red-colored solar panels, matching its brick facade.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Prime Corner in Crown Heights to Sprout 8-Story Condo

A prime development site in Brooklyn, less than three blocks from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Prospect Park, is ready to break ground. The long vacant 14,000-square-foot lot, located at 341 Eastern Parkway at the corner of Franklin Avenue has been approved for a 77,000-square-foot, eight–story mixed-use development with 63 residential units. 

The site, which is at the corner of the fledgling Franklin Avenue retail corridor, has approved plans for more than 7,500 square feet of retail space, more than 870 square feet of community space and 38 parking spots.

The Franklin Avenue subway station, with access to the 2, 3, 4 and 5 trains, is also directly in front of the site. It is also near the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Public Library.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Proposed 'New Pier 17' at South Street Seaport

A sneak peek at the latest renderings of the new design by SHoP Architects for Pier 17 that replaces the red shed by the Brooklyn Bridge show an open glass and steel structure that has transparent curtain walls and an open air plaza on the lower level.

The present structure of Pier 17 is that of a conventional mall, with shops around the edges of the building and a central atrium that provides an open vertical space.

The flat stacked floors of the redesign trades this vertical space for lateral sightlines and cross-ventilation, at least on the lower level.

The glass curtain walls on the upper floors should provide equally impressive views of the waterfront and the Brooklyn Bridge, whereas the red shed Pier 17 blocked its interior from the surrounding waterfront environment.

The only hazard SHoP's trade-off of vertical for horizontal space seems to pose is that if placement of interior structures on the lower level or walls on the upper levels becomes too aggressive, and Pier 17 loses its openness on both the vertical and horizontal planes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chelsea Market Seeks Approval For Huge Rooftop Addition

Community groups, however, are crying foul as the building’s owner, Jamestown Property, seeks city approval for the massive new construction project.

Among the Chelsea Market shops selling cheese, butchered meats and exotic olive oils are reminders of the building's industrial past, as well as a multimedia nod to its possible future.

Exhibited along an indoor promenade are ads for the Oreo cookies once made there and an architectural model and accompanying video for a proposed 330,000-square-foot office and hotel expansion that the building's owner wants to construct atop the roof.

Last week, the clock started on the city-review process required for the extension. Owner Jamestown Property insists the success of Chelsea Market in recent years helped the neighborhood blossom into a vibrant tech center, and that enlarging the property is needed now to spur more of the same.

Community groups, however, are vowing to block the proposal to add new space that they contend is unnecessary and fear will only add to the area's congestion. Yet both sides agree on the huge importance of the trendy ground-floor retail market, which continues to draw people from near and far.

Atlanta-based Jamestown, which owns properties all over the country, is bolstering its local portfolio with a deal to buy 325 Hudson St. for an estimated $120 million.

The Chelsea Market’s nearly 1 million square feet of office space is full, with tenants that include the Food Network and Google. Jamestown Property has spent large sums attracting just the sort of companies increasingly seen as vital to the city's future.

Beyond making improvements in the market, Jamestown has put satellite dishes and cooling towers on the roof, and even installed dog-friendly staircases to make it easier for people to bring their pets to work.

 Unable to accommodate any more tenants, Jamestown wants to expand the building itself, adding as many as 11 stories. That would permit the total tenant-employee head count to grow by about a third, to 4,000. The proposed 125-room hotel would accommodate the tourists already flooding the neighborhood.

Detractors counter that with so much vacant space available in the city, there's no need to bulk up what is already one of Chelsea's largest properties. The low-slung building takes up the entire block between Ninth and Tenth avenues and West 14th and West 15th streets.

The fate of the proposal will be decided by the City Council—which may make for interesting political theater, since the market sits in the district of a likely mayoral candidate, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Last year, Jamestown agreed to various adjustments in its plan, including reducing the height by 20 feet. More compromises are expected.

Much has changed in the nine years since Jamestown bought a 75% stake in Chelsea Market. Industrial tenants like Rose Brand Theatrical Canvas are gone, replaced by those tech companies drawn by the relatively cheap rents upstairs and the retail operation downstairs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Construction Worker Seriously Injured at Second Avenue Subway Site

A construction worker was seriously injured when a slab of concrete or roadway fell on him at a Second Avenue Subway construction site on the Upper East Side Monday afternoon. The accident comes on the heels of a fatal crane collapse at the MTA's No. 7 extension construction site on 34th Street on April 3.

Last month, the federal Occupational Health & Safety Administration issued $8,500 in fines for "serious" violations to another contractor — a joint venture of Schiavone, Shea and Kiewit — for a worker's respirator not being properly fitted for exposure to dangerous levels of silica.

OSHA officials returned to the site on Monday, to begin an investigation into the cause of the most recent accident

The worker in Monday's incident — an employee of mega-construction firm Skanska — was in a utility trench on East 86th Street and Second Avenue just after 12:45 p.m. when he was "hit by a piece of roadway pavement or concrete when it was being moved by equipment," an MTA spokesman said.

He was rushed to New York Hospital with back and leg injuries in serious but stable condition, and it appears he may have suffered multiple broken bones, FDNY officials said.

Emergency workers freed the victim, who was pinned for up to 20 minutes. "He was screaming, 'Help, help!,'" said one bystander. ''They took the concrete from off his legs and started putting water on his head. His face looked red.''

A worker from the Food Emporium nearby heard the worker's screams for help. "I never heard anything that loud. They told me that he broke his back," she said. "They responded real quick and talked to him, trying to keep him calm.''

A spokeswoman from Skanksa said the worker's injuries were "not life-threatening."

"We don’t know the specific extent of his injuries as of yet, but he is receiving treatment and we should know more soon," she said. "We’re thankful to New York City’s first responders and the workers on site for their quick action."

The site is a major construction zone for the Second Avenue Subway, where the East 86th Street station is being built. Blasting began this month for this part of the $4.45 billion first phase of the project, which will extend the Q line from East 63rd up to East 96th street, is expected to be completed by December 2016.

Residents have been unhappy with the construction's impacts on the Upper East Side. "It's too noisy, and it's taking too long," said Erwin Baker, 79, who lives on 87th Street and Second Avenue. ''We're trying to sell our apartment, but people are afraid to buy it because of the air quality.''

The MTA conducted an independent study, which found the air quality was safe.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Goldman Sach’s Investment in the Hood

A development group recently purchased the former Studebaker Service Station at 1000 Dean Street in Crown Heights for $11 million. They plan to convert the 155,000 square-feet of space into a commercial mixed-use development that will house artists and assorted creative types as well as a food hall—a $30 million project, to which Goldman Sachs’ Urban Investment Group will contribute $25.5 million.

A promising first step—bringing Selldorf Architects on board to design the space, which should be interesting given Selldorf’s success with high/low projects in the past: Manhattan galleries and penthouses, a renovation of the Plaza’s famed Oak Room and designing a Brooklyn recycling plant.

The former garage/storage facility is located in a small enclave of commercially zoned buildings, which makes it significantly cheaper than residential or mixed-use areas in the surrounding neighborhood, and a neighborhood that’s already significantly cheaper than Dumbo.

Another nearby building was recently purchased for use as a deluxe storage facility.

But it was other factors, especially the neighborhood’s growing population of young, creative professionals, the burgeoning number of businesses on Franklin Avenue that cater to them and the neighborhoods within a one-mile radius (Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Bed-Stuy and even parts of Fort Greene and Park Slope) that closed the deal.

Goldman Sach’s Urban Investment Group also thought 1000 Dean, and moreover Crown Heights, had a lot of potential—it’s their first investment in the neighborhood, although Margaret Anadu, vice president of the Urban Investment Group, said another deal for an affordable housing and community facility development is near closing.

A sidewalk shed is presently being erected around the property with renovations expected will commence shortly. Construction at the site expected to complete early next year.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Harlem River Point Housing Project

A brand new housing project will soon be constructed beside the Metro-North Railroad tracks, on the east side of Park Avenue at 131st Street. The project, being built by L+M Development, will provide just over 300 new mixed-income units serving very low to moderate-income households.

The project will also include a 10,000 square foot day care center, 2,500 square feet of retail space, as well as common green space for residents.  Construction commenced earlier this year.

L+M began life in 1984 as a builder of market-rate residential projects in the city. It was only when the housing downturn hit, late in that decade, that the company launched into affordable housing. Having made the switch once, L+M knew the drill.

Today, with six projects under way—all of them 100% affordable—L+M is busy. In Wallabout, Brooklyn, L+M is redeveloping a former naval prison into a 458-unit mixed-income apartment building to be called Navy Green. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, the developer is hard at work on Harlem River Point, a 346-unit property on Park Avenue, just north of East 131st Street.

Three years ago, L+M also got into the business of rehabilitating distressed affordable-housing properties. At the largest of those projects, the company is working with the Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement on a $75 million renovation of 14 buildings in the Bradhurst section of Manhattan.

As a part of its push into rehab work, L+M has collaborated with Citi Community Capital, which has created a $100 million fund to help finance and rehabilitate affordable housing across the city. To date, its New York Affordable Housing Preservation Fund has preserved more than 1,300 units in 14 buildings. Now there is talk of a second fund.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brooklyn Group Bids To Buy Vacant Pfizer Property For Affordable Housing

Community groups are making a $10 million bid to buy up drug giant Pfizer’s last property in Williamsburg - and build hundreds of affordable apartments on the vacant industrial land. The property in Williamsburg’s Broadway Triangle has been empty since Pfizer closed its plant in 2008 - laying off hundreds of workers and pulling out of Brooklyn after a 159-year history.

The land languished for several years until Pfizer put it up for sale in December, and now six local groups say they could build 840 apartments there.

Pfizer sold the rest of its property including the plant itself last year to Acumen Capital Partners, which has been renting space to many local food companies - making everything from pickles to ice cream.

However, the drug giant angered some local politicians by backing off what they said was a promise to donate the property to be redeveloped as affordable housing, which Pfizer denied. Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez introduced a bill to seize their land by eminent domain, but the effort failed.

The community groups decided to try to work with Pfizer to buy the land on the open

The property is part of a swath of land around Williamsburg’s Broadway Triangle, on the border of Bedford Stuyvesant that has been mostly barren for years. The city launched a plan to build housing on an adjacent site, but it was blocked by a court after local groups sued charging the housing would favor Hasidic families over blacks and Latinos.

The groups bidding for the Pfizer property say their plan “will ensure a balanced economic, racial and religious community.”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Affordable Housing, with Fewer Subsidies

City's affordable housing goals on track despite budget cuts, but threats loom. Since the onset of the recession, the city’s focus has shifted from building expensive new-construction units to preserving existing affordable housing stock, including the many aging apartment buildings.

Last summer, New York City crossed the three-quarters mark on the way to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s goal of churning out 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014.

In his announcement of the milestone, the mayor boasted that the number of New Yorkers ultimately benefiting from the plan will exceed the total population of Miami.

Of course, Bloomberg has never been short of lofty ambitions. But he picked a challenging time to wager a piece of his legacy on real estate development.

In the midst of the financial turmoil over the past few years, few construction projects have made it off the ground. Bloomberg’s proposal, dubbed the New Housing Marketplace Plan, was launched in 2003 to spur the development and preservation of subsidized housing for low- to middle-income New Yorkers through a variety of funding programs and tax incentives. However, it has already been altered to remain viable in today’s climate.

Since the onset of the recession, the program’s focus has shifted from building expensive new-construction units to preserving the existing affordable housing stock, including the many aging Mitchell-Lama apartment buildings scattered throughout the city. Meanwhile, the program’s homeownership component was virtually eliminated in favor of restricted-income rentals, and its original deadline was extended by a year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bloomberg Administration Announces Two New Bronx Development Deals

The Bloomberg administration trumpeted two Bronx development deals this week that will create 300 permanent jobs and 600 construction jobs. The New York City Economic Development Corp. will reveal on Thursday that CJSA Realty LLC will redevelop a 100,000-square-foot Zerega plot as the new headquarters for an ambulette company. The agency announced on Tuesday that it had selected Equity One, Inc. to redevelop an 80,000-square-foot site in Kingsbridge as a shopping center.

NYCEDC Development Will Create 100 Construction Jobs and 50 Permanent Jobs in Bronx

The New York City Economic Development Corporation announced the selection of CJSA Realty LLC to redevelop a vacant 100,000-square-foot site located at 535-537 Zerega Avenue in the Bronx. CJSA plans to construct a new 31,000-square-foot facility on the property to be used as the new company headquarters and vehicle repair facility for D-J Ambulette, creating 100 construction jobs.

D-J Ambulette will use the site to expand its operations, creating 50 new permanent jobs—in addition to its current workforce of 238 employees—and 100 construction jobs. The reactivation of vacant and underutilized industrial property is a key component of City’s recently announced 22 initiatives to strengthen the industrial sector and help small industrial businesses stay and grow in New York City.

CJSA was selected to redevelop the site based on their response to an RFP issued in fall 2010. The development still must receive all necessary public approvals before proceeding. Pending approvals, construction is expected to commence early in 2013, and be completed in 2014.

CJSA plans to purchase the site from the City for $1.2 million. The development intends to seek LEED silver rating.

Equity One Selected To Build New Shopping Center in Bronx

The New York City Economic Development Corporation announced the selection of Equity One, Inc. to redevelop an 80,000 s/f site located along the Broadway retail corridor in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. The project is expected to create over 250 new full and part-time jobs and approximately 500 construction jobs.

Equity One plans to invest approximately $54 million to construct a new 133,000 s/f, two-story shopping center with 130 covered parking spaces on the site, located on 230th Street, between Broadway and the Major Deegan Expressway.

The developer will purchase the site from the City for $7.5 million, with construction expected to commence around early 2013 and be completed within two years.

Equity One was ultimately selected to redevelop the site based on its response to an RFP issued in August 2011. The development intends to seek at least LEED silver rating.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Work Resumes at 7 Extension After Deadly Crane Collapse

Construction on the 7 Train extension resumed this week, after a crane collapse killed one worker and injured several others at the West 34th Street and 11th Avenue work site on April 3. The disaster killed Michael Simmermeyer, 30, and injured three other workers, when massive pieces of a crane came crashing down at the MTA's No. 7 extension construction site on 34th Street.

Shortly after 7:20 p.m on April 3, the 40- and 80-foot sections of the giant Manitowoc 4100 crane— which had a 170-foot-long boom — fell to the ground shortly with a deafening sound, at the site on 34th Street and 11th Avenue.

At least one cable snapped, sparking the collapse of the crane, which is owned and operated by Yonkers Contracting Company Inc.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had suspended all work on the site, where the future 34th Street station is being built, shortly after the deadly incident and had yet to replace the crane as of Tuesday morning, even though work at the jobsite has restarted.

In the wake of the crane collapse, local politicians have called for greater city oversight over MTA and other state-owned construction sites. Currently, city inspectors can only come onto sites under state supervision if they are invited.

According to reports, city inspectors failed to check the cables of the crane in a January inspection.

The city's Department of Buildings, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the District Attorney and the NYPD are still investigating the incident.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

LIC's Massive East Coast Project, Half-Done

The $1 billion-plus East Coast project, a massive, 7 building residential complex that has been two decades in the making, is just past half-done. Developer TF Cornerstone has now completed three rental towers, a condo building called the View, an eight-acre park, and a waterfront promenade. The project is more than half done.

 All told, the project is expected to be finished in 2014 and will add some 3,500 units of market-rate housing to Long Island City, a post-industrial waterfront neighborhood that had been dominated by low-slung factory buildings and a scattering of town houses.

East Coast is a 21-acre parcel owned by the state and approved for some 3 million square feet of development. The plan was tweaked a decade ago to remove roads from around the buildings, with the resulting open space at the site a huge boon to neighborhood residents. The builders built tall, statement-making buildings on small footprints, surrounded by as much green space as possible, giving the whole community a classic feel, with towers in parks surrounded by highways.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Upper East Side Residents Seek to Prevent New 15-Story Building

With the Toll Brothers purchase of two of the remaining 'little townhouses' on Park Avenue, and its plans to erect a new building on the site, neighbors are seeking an extension of the Carnegie Hill Historic District to prevent the 15-story tower from rising.

According to neighbors, the developer plans to bring a 15-story building where the two properties currently stand at 1110 Park Avenue and at 1108 Park Avenue, and residents who live in an adjacent building say the new structure would block their windows.

Carnegie Hill Neighbors, a neighborhood preservation organization, is recommending that residents of 1112 Park Avenue - which stands next to the developer-owned townhouses at 1110 Park and 1108 Park, and which Toll Brothers is reportedly eyeing - to write letters to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and ask for an extension of the historic district from 86th Street to 96th Street.

The three buildings stand between 89th and 90th streets. The residents of 1112 Park have hired a lawyer to prevent the Toll project from blocking their windows.

Recent articles have reported that Toll Bothers has asked the retail tenants at 1108 and 1110 Park Avenue to move out by July 1.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Annabelle Selldorf Proposes New Six-Story Building on Bond Street

Selldorf Architects, designers 520 West Chelsea near the High Line and the gleaming stainless steel tower at 200 Eleventh Avenue, presented a new plan for a Noho corner lot at a meeting of Community Board 2. What was shown for 10 Bond Street is six stories and a penthouse, all clad in bands of earth-toned terra cotta. At each floor an expansive pane of curved glass rounds the corner above Lafayette and Bond, a visual cue taken from the landmarked 1885 DeVinne Press building, sitting one block north.

The site at 10 Bond Street is currently home to a non-descript three-story brick building, built in 1920, and a car repair shop with a parking lot, all of which is slated for demolition. The lot sits across from the infamous Finger of Noho and backs up to another site set for development, where a plan by Morris Adjmi was recently approved for 372 Lafayette. A couple of years back, a hotel proposal from Traboscia Roiatti Architects was approved for the 12 Bond site, but the economic crash killed that plan.

Documents recently filed at the Department of Finance show that 8-12 Development Partners LLC now controls the site, covering two lots at 8 and 10-12 Bond Street. The proposal is slated to go before the Landmarks Preservation Commission this week.

The development team is waiting on the vote before releasing its construction schedule.


Big Plans for 372 Lafayette Street

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation revealed a rendering for a new building coming to 372 Lafayette Street, at the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Street in NoHo. The relatively handsome building is designed by Morris Adjmi and will be a market-rate rental apartment building.

The building design, which was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, is indeed the same lot where architect David Wallance wanted to build a "creative" six-story building made from shipping containers. Indeed, that proposal was approved, but fortunately, never built. In any case, the latest renderings seem much more contextual and easier to swallow. Construction is expected to begin later this spring.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Michigan Developer Plans Second Ave Condo Building

A five-story walk-up apartment building at 1162 Second Avenue was recently purchased by the Michigan-based Dart Development Group, which is planning a new-construction condominium on the site. The building, at the corner of 61st Street and Second Avenue, was marketed with rights that allow the site to support 45,812 square feet of residential development. The sale closed for $17.2 million.

It has been reported that the Dart Group plans to build a new 14-story luxury condominium on the site.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Abandoned City Hall Landmark to Become a New Hotel

GB Lodging has closed a deal to purchase the Temple Court building, a nine-story city landmark at 5 Beekman Street formerly owned by the Chetrit Group, for $64 million. The property will be redeveloped into a new 297-room boutique hotel with 90 residences, and will be operated by Commune Hotels & Resorts under the Thompson Hotels brand.

The building made headlines in 2010 when the Chetrit Group, which paid $61 million for the abandoned building in 2008 and planned to convert it into a 200-room hotel, got into a legal dispute with a partner, which culminated with foreclosure action taken against the property.

Temple Court, a landmarked brick and terracotta office building built in the 1880s, has been vacant for decades, with portions of the property - just a block from City Hall – inaccessible for more than 65 years. Recently it has been used for fashion industry photo shoots by Harper’s Bazaar and for the AMC television series “Rubicon,” which was canceled in 2010.

The decayed urban treasure is configured around a nine-story atrium surrounded by Victorian era railings and enclosed by a perfectly restored iron and glass skylight. The entire atrium is in incredible condition, because it has been shuttered for more than 65 years, preserving it like a mosquito in amber.

While a date has not yet been confirmed for construction to begin, the project is slated for completion in 2014.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Extell Prepares For New Tower at 57th & Broadway

Extell Development continues to bulldoze its way across the city. The developer has begun work on another of its long-simmering projects: yet another soaring tower, at the corner of Broadway and 57th Street.

Extell assembled the T-shaped plot last decade and then took out a $256 million mortgage on it, leading to quite a bit of consternation when the Landmarks Preservation Commission unexpectedly decided 1780 Broadway and 225 West 57th Street were worth saving.

Extell fought off the effort by the LPC to preserve two of the structures in 2009.

225 West 57th Street, once owned by B.F. Goodrich, is part of a stretch of 1930's dealership buildings known as Automobile Row.

In the end, the commission agreed to a compromise deal, saving 1780 Broadway while allowing 225 West 57th Street to be torn down.

The site, like so many others at the moment, had remained quiet through the economic downturn, but has recently reawakened.

Extell has recently filed a series of demolition permits for various buildings along 57th and 58th streets. One of those buildings is now coming down, with others soon to follow.

The developer would not disclose whether the project had financing, but that has not stopped Extell before.

Demolition commenced years before construction started on either the One57 site or the International Gem Tower in the Diamond District, and both began construction using only Extell’s equity. As shown at One57, this strategy allowed the developer to act faster because Mr. Barnett did not need to wait for the wrecking ball, and his construction progress helped attract investors, a particularly challenging prospect during the current economic malaise.

As is typical, Extell has declined to discuss an architect or designs for the 57th and Broadway project.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Developer Unveils New Bryant Park Tower

Houston-based real estate firm Hines revealed the Pei Cobb Freed & Partners design for its forthcoming Bryant Park office tower. The 28-story, 450,000-square-foot structure at 1045 Sixth Avenue will be named 7 Bryant Park.

The tower is being built in partnership with Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, which has owned the land since 1954. The glassy exterior of 7 Bryant Park will feature concave detailing on its hourglass-shape, and a large stainless steel disc suspended over the entrance at the corner of 40th Street. 

Hines will wait until it signs some tenants and obtains construction financing before beginning work on the tower. Demolition of the previous structure which was on the site was completed last fall, so construction could begin as early as this summer, with occupancy ready by 2014.  

Hines will seek LEED certification for the office tower.