Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Manhattan West Breaks Ground on 60-Story Twin Towers

For the second time in two months, Mayor Michael Bloomberg trekked out to the Far West Side for a groundbreaking on a major new development built over a set of railroad tracks. While Manhattan West is not quite as big as the Hudson Yards project, in its size and scale the project measures up pound for pound.  More than 5.5 million square feet of offices and housing and shopping will be constructed on barely more than one city block. The platform over the rail yards will be finished by the end of next year, followed by two 60-story towers in 2016.

Brookfield Properties has kicked off construction of its $4.5 billion, 5.5-million-square-foot Manhattan West project. Work has begun on a 120,000-square-foot platform over the tracks leading into Penn Station that will eventually link three gigantic mixed-use towers.

The platform, which will create a pedestrian link between the towers, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.

The entire Manhattan West, totaling 5 million square feet, will include two, 2-million-square-foot office towers, and a residential tower, as well as retail space and 1.5 acres of public space. The office towers will be open for tenants in 2016.

[See ElectricWeb | Blogger, Nov 30, 2011]

The site, bounded by Ninth Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets and Dyer Avenue, is just east of Related Cos. even larger Hudson Yards development site, where work was just begun late last year.

“With today’s groundbreaking, we’re taking a major step forward in the transformation and rebirth of the Far West Side of Manhattan,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said from the podium at the corner of 33rd Street and Ninth Avenue.

Behind him stood the Farley Post Office, some day to become a grand new entrance for Penn Station. In front of him, earthmovers had already begun tearing up this former parking lot, making way for one of the project’s two 60-story office towers.

Directly across the tracks below, on 31st Street, construction workers had not even stopped for the groundbreaking ceremony as they prepped the southwest corner for a residential tower that will rise there.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is designing all three towers and a large retail building on the northwest corner.

Rick Clark, CEO of Brookfield Properties, told guests at the cold morning ceremony, that the project had been ready to move forward since early last year, but the market felt better now, particularly for the inclusion of apartments. "We weren’t sure if we would be building one tower at first, or two, but as things progressed, it just made more sense, in terms of economic and market conditions. Now, it is finally the right time.”

Brookfield Properties has controlled most of the parcel since the mid-1980s, but it took until 2005, before it acquired the northeast corner of the site.

This unlocked the next important piece of the project, which was determining to build to construct any buildings along the edges of the site.

That way, the foundations and cores could be built over firm ground, with only a small section of each building cantilevering out over the train yard below.

In 2009, Brookfield hit upon using a concrete bridging technology that would allow it to deck over the tracks without having to build a huge steel structure reaching down to the yard, holding up what will eventually become the 1.5-acre public plaza at the development’s core. Instead, this bridge will be suspended across the 5-acre site.

The whole project will cost $4.5 billion, while the platform itself cost $680 million. Funding for the project has already been secured - half of which is being financed with Brookfield's own capital.