Wednesday, June 25, 2014

80-Story Tower Gets Green Light from Port Authority

3 WTC Good to Go
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's board unanimously approved a plan today to help finance the construction of 3 World Trade Center by tapping $159 million in insurance proceeds from the Sept. 11 attacks.                         

The Port Authority's executive director, Pat Foye, said the money would allow construction on the 80-story, 2.5 million-square-foot tower to proceed as the building's developer, Silverstein Properties begins to raise $1.2 billion in the bond market to build the over $2 billion spire.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Tallest Residential Tower Outside Manhattan to Rise in L.I.C.

Excavation is underway in Long Island City for what will soon become the city’s tallest residential building outside of Manhattan. Heatherwood Communities is building a 58-story skyscraper at 42-12 28th Street that will rise 646 feet and 8 inches to its pinnacle, making it significantly taller than any existing residential high-rise. The tower will contain 477 apartments with a pool, a gym, roof terraces, bike storage, underground parking and a small amount of ground floor retail space.
Indeed, at 646 feet, the skyscraper will become the tallest apartment building in either Brooklyn or Queens, and will stand a mere twelve feet shy of the monolithic One Court Square, which has dominated the Court Square skyline for over two decades, and 56 feet taller than Brooklyn's tallest building, 388 Bridge Street, which was completed last year.

With 477 units, 42-12 28th Street will also add a significant number of new residents to the burgeoning Court Square neighborhood, which is seeing a surge in development. Next-door,

Heatherwood recently completed 42-17 27th Street, branded 27 on 27th, which has 142 units.

In terms of square footage, the building will have 5,878 square feet of retail, and 392,824 square feet of residential space. Amenities will include a third-floor pool, gym, roof terraces on the 45th and 58th floors, bike storage, and underground parking.

The aesthetic is simple and glassy, typical of new developments in Long Island City, though zigzagging lines of a white material break up the facade’s monotony.

Above anything else, 42-12 28th Street’s defining characteristic will be its looming height, which will distinguish the structure from neighboring high-rises.

Given its scope and height, 42-12 28th Street will make a significant positive impact on the neighborhood and its skyline, helping the push towards the creation of a livable and walkable neighborhood in Court Square.

Designed by the architecture firm of Goldstein and Hill & West, the project is expected to be completed in June of 2017.

Once upon a time, Long Island City was a hotbed of industry, but over the last decade, it's become a hotbed for residential development, thanks to rezoning. Since then, roughly 5,000 units have been added to a 37 block area that encompasses the LIC neighborhoods of Court Square and Queens Plaza.

Click to enlarge
Rockrose is another major participant in the area’s renaissance, and The Linc LIC — a 790-unit tower which was recently completed — will soon be joined by another skyscraper at 10 Court Square.

Height-wise, 10 Court Square will still play second-fiddle to 42-12 28th Street, as the former will only stand 50 stories and 509 feet.
Many more projects are still in the planning stages.

The race upwards is just beginning in Long Island City, and the momentum in Court Square is going to become apparent as the skyline will be completely transformed over the course of the next few years.

From warehouse conversions to the tallest residential building in Queens, there is a lot on the rise in Long Island City.

** Special thanks to Nikolai Fedak of New York YIMBY for the information in this article.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

New Mega-Development Planning to Rise in Flushing

While the Willets Point Redevelopment project is nearing construction, progress is also imminent at another major development site across Flushing Creek, dubbed Two Fulton Square. The site is being developed by the F&T Group, which is also behind the recently-opened One Fulton Square. 

Two Fulton Square is a Flushing mega-project that includes residential, office and commercial space.

The project is the latest exciting development to come to downtown Flushing, and will play an important part in the growth and development of the surrounding area.

Two Fulton Square will be constructed in two phases;  The first phase of construction will bring a 220-unit condominium building, as well as a tower with 150,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The second phase will include construction of 200 additional condominiums, a 200,000 square foot commercial component for entertainment and international retail, plus a 240-room themed hotel.

The project will be built atop of a three-level glass retail podium, and feature expansive roof-top outdoor gardens and an indoor swimming pool located on the top floor of the tower with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, accessible only to hotel guests and residents.

The plaza at Two Fulton Square provides a public space for local events and gatherings, bringing the community together through concerts, family activities, and cultural festivals, in addition to the expansive shopping experience that the retail spaces will provide.

The new plans follow completion of F&T’s One Fulton Square, designed by architect Daniel Margulies, which is one block away.

It includes 43 condominiums, a 10-story and 168-key Hyatt Place, and a three-story retail podium, totaling over 346,000 square feet.

F&T Group is presently updating its plans to make full-use of the site’s potential.

Two Fulton Square will be significantly larger, and will nearly occupy two entire blocks. The retail podium will dominate the streetscape, though cut-throughs will open up the entirety of the site to pedestrian access.

F&T’s plan will be a major improvement compared to the parking lots and low-rises that are currently on-site, and multiple levels of outdoor space will activate the development’s significant retail component, energizing the surrounding neighborhood.
The buildings will appear drastically different depending on the viewing perspective; vantage points will reveal undulating structures uncharacteristic of new construction in Flushing.

Elevated parks will be interspersed throughout the complex, and solar panels will sit prominently atop the high-rise component.

Phases I and II are designed to link with waterfront luxury residential towers with pedestrian bridge access to Willets Point, CitiField and the USTA National Tennis Center.

The Willets Point’s redevelopment presents a significant opportunity for Queens, and current plans for Two Fulton Square are no less than impressive. Both projects promise to revitalize a stagnant area of Flushing.

No completion date has been announced, but with work wrapping up at One Fulton Square, demolition at the site is expected to begin later this year.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

LIC Makes Way for Three New $875M Residential Towers

Long Island City gets glassier by the day, and now Tishman Speyer is teaming up H&R Real Estate to build a three-tower, 1.2 million-square-foot “luxury residential rental development” with 1,600 residential units and 30,000 square feet of retail space. The partners will put $875 million into the development, with construction slated to kick off in 2015, playing out in three phases. Phase I will see the construction of a 42-story, 370-foot building with 700 units. Occupancy is expected for 2017.

Tishman Speyer and H&R Real Estate Investment Trust have purchased a large development site and are moving ahead with development on another phase of Long Island City’s Gotham Center.

The partnership has extensive plans for redeveloping two blocks in the Queens Plaza area of Long Island City.

H&R announced it would pay $55.6 million for a 50% stake in the land, which it is acquiring from a partnership that includes the Modell family, owners of the sporting goods chain of the same name.

Tishman Speyer, which had been one of the Modell family's partners in the site, has owned an interest in the land for over a decade, and was able to convert that stake into its ownership in the new joint venture.

The parcel is bordered by Jackson Avenue to then north, LIRR/Sunnyside Yards to the south, Queens Boulevard to the east, and Orchard Street to the west.

Queens Plaza Residential Development - Site B, was assembled from eight separate properties:
  • 28-10, 28-20 & 28-34 Jackson Avenue
  • 30-02 Queens Blvd
  • 42-02 & 42-26 West Street
  • 42-01 & 42-33 Orchard Street
Click to enlarge
The development will be built in three phases, with the initial phase involving the construction of a 42-story tower, which will include 700 rental apartments.

Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in 2015 with occupancy expected to commence in 2017. Two more buildings will follow.

Tishman Speyer will act as the developer and project manager.

By the time the development is complete, Tishman and H&R Real Estate Investment Trust aim to build 3 towers, 1,600 residential units and about 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

Tishman was the developer of 2 Gotham Center, a 21-story building that was once the home to a municipal parking lot that is now leased by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

Toronto-based H&R acquired 2 Gotham Center from Tishman Speyer for $415.5 million in 2011.

“We are excited at the opportunity to participate with Tishman Speyer in the long-term growth and evolution of Long Island City,  at the intersection of two of the area’s most important thoroughfares”, said Tom Hofstedter, the president and chief executive of H&R.

“This project further diversifies H&R and expands our foothold in one of the world’s largest and most prosperous metropolitan areas.”

Real estate experts claim that the Queensboro Plaza/Court Square area can absorb the influx of new units.

“I welcome this development,” said Justin Elghanayan, president of Rockrose Development Corp, which owns the Linc in Court Square and is developing several other sites nearby.

“While in the short term competition can depress rents slightly, over time it brings in more retailers and is positive for the neighborhood.”

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Queens Construction Surges Back to Life

At the height of the economic downturn hundreds of construction projects were idled across the outer boroughs. Four years later, construction has surged back to life, and with it, the development of many stalled projects in Queens. In 2014, the borough has welcomed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new construction starts, a 40% increase over the same period last year, with a flurry of mixed-use projects and new residential towers popping up to meet the ever-increasing demand for housing.

From Hunters Point to Rego Park, Queens mega-developments — some soaring 40 stories or more — are sprouting up across the borough, promising to transform one of New York City’s least distinguished skylines. A 500-foot-tall skyscraper being built in Court Square is destined to become Queens’ tallest residential building when completed in 2016, while five blocks away, a pair of 41- and 48-story towers are to rise near Jackson Ave.
Click to enlarge
“It’s going to put eyeballs on Queens,” say real estate brokers of the gravity defying new additions now under construction in Queens. “It’s just not on everybody’s radar the way Brooklyn and Manhattan are.”

Among the most anticipated projects:

Destined to become Queens’ tallest residential building when its completed in 2016, a 500-foot-tall skyscraper being helmed by Rockrose Development will stand side by side the Citibank Building in Long Island City. [See ElectricWeb|Blogger, May 27, 2013]

At 658 feet tall, that 24-year-old skyscraper — officially known as 1 Court Square — was erected in 1990 amidst what real estate professionals at the time predicted would be a major building boom in Queens. That boom never came.

After the financial crash of 2008, people were a little slow to start developing because it wasn't that easy to finance a 40- or 50-story tower. But now banks are a little more lenient, so here’s going to be a lot more skyscrapers in the area.

Only five blocks away, a pair of 41- and 48-story towers are to rise from the ashes of 5Pointz, the famed graffiti mecca the owners of the site are razing near Jackson Ave. The $500 million G & M Realty project will include roughly 1,000 new housing units in the luxury complex that will include a tennis court, pool and billiards rooms. [See ElectricWeb|Blogger, May 1, 2013]

“It’s going to spur development,” said G&M Realty president Jerry Wolkoff. “It'll bring a tremendous amount of people.”

At its tallest, the retail and residential complex planned for Hunters Point South will soar 41 stories once the first two phases of the project are completed within five years.

The 30-acre waterfront complex will add about 5,000 new apartments, 60% of which will be affordable housing, the largest such swath of units built since the early 1970s. [See ElectricWeb|Blogger, Dec 5, 2013]

Meanwhile, a $3 billion Willets Point project, near Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, will create another 2,500 housing units in buildings growing as high as 20 stories.

The mall targeted for a CitiField parking lot, will add more than a million square feet of retail space when its completed in 2020, officials have said. [See ElectricWeb|Blogger, Oct 9, 2013]

“Queens is undergoing significant economic growth right now,” said an Economic Development Corp. spokeswoman. “Hunters Point and Willets Point are creating entirely new neighborhoods.”

In neighborhoods affected by construction, developers hope to spur new business — not destroy it.

The $1 billion Hallets Point project will spread 2,400 apartments across seven towers, some reaching 31 stories. It will also include a new school and waterfront promenade with shops and cafes.

Construction is slated to late this year and be completed by 2018. “It’s going to revive a community that’s been relatively isolated,” said Joel Bergstein, president of Lincoln Equities Group, which is developing the project.
[See ElectricWeb|Blogger, Sept 29, 2013]

Next door, another five towers are expected to be completed by 2015. The Astoria Cove project will add an additional 2,400 units, with buildings topping 30 stories.
[See ElectricWeb|Blogger, May 15, 2013]

Meanwhile, construction will begin this summer on the $850 million Flushing Commons plan, which will replace a parking lot in the neighborhood with 600 luxury condos.

The project will include a YMCA, the creation of a 1.5-acre town square, 1,600-space parking lot and a retail complex. The entire project slated for completion by 2020.
[See ElectricWeb|Blogger, Jan 8, 2014]

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Friday, June 13, 2014

68-Story Luxury Tower, 13-Story Rentals to Rise on Cherry St

Extell Development is planning a large residential and commercial complex on the former Pathmark site at 227 Cherry Street in the Two Bridges neighborhood. The active developer is building a 68-story market-rate high-rise, as well as a 13-floor, 205-unit affordable building, which will stand next to the taller tower at 229 Cherry Street. Both buildings will be constructed above a mixed-use podium base with retail shops, bowling alley, a theater and parking.

The enormous 800-foot tower will dwarf any other structure in the immediate area and add hundreds of market-rate apartment to the Lower East Side’s residential inventory.

Extell recently completed demolition of the old Pathmark building on the waterfront lot between Rutgers and Pike Slips, and between Cherry Street and the FDR, which it purchased for $150 million in 2012.

Now, the first signs of Extell’s pans for the huge new residential and commercial complex are starting to emerge. 

There will actually be three parts to the project:
  • A “mixed-use podium base” consisting of apartments, retail and parking. It is being designed by Adamson Associates, a Canadian firm that has collaborated on many high profile New York City buildings, including the World Trade Center towers. 
  • A 68-story market rate luxury tower, also designed by Adamson.
  • A 205-unit low income housing rental tower by Dattner Architects
227 Cherry Street will become one of the largest residential towers in Lower Manhattan, measuring more than 1.2 million square feet.

The base will have a host of amenities, including a basketball court, a bowling alley, a squash room, a golf-simulator room, a theater, a dog spa, a human spa, a billiard room, a ping pong room, a rock-climbing room, a cross-fit room, a dance room, a wine and cigar room, a lap pool, a kiddie pool, and even a yoga room.

The features will be comprehensive.
In terms of square footage, the commercial components will take up 23,946 square feet, while the residential portion will measure 912,800 square feet. A total of 787 residential units are planned.

Apartments will begin on the 6th floor. There are 13 to 14 units per floor, except on the 68th floor, where seven larger apartments are planned.

Extell plans to participate in the city’s inclusionary housing program, which allows developers to increase the floor area of their projects in exchange for building affordable housing.

The company will also access tax exempt bonds and tax credits available to affordable housing developers, and seek 20-year tax abatement.

There will be 205 apartments, including 49 studios, 51 1-bedroom units and 105 2-bedroom units.

The apartments will be available to families earning 60% or below the area median income, with listed prices for studios at $833/month; 1-bedrooms at $895/month; and 2-bedrooms at $1082/month.

Extell purchased the Pathmark site for $150 million. The store closed in late 2012, a development met with widespread displeasure in the Two Bridges community. There is no plan to replace the Pathmark grocery store.

More information about the 68-story main building will be revealed at a public briefing next week.

Extell will meet with Community Board 3′s land use committee on June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rutgers Community Center at 200 Madison Street.

Extell’s undertaking represents a major positive shift for the neighborhood, and will hopefully become a game-changer for the Lower East Side.

The entire project is scheduled for completion by 2019.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

65-Story One Vanderbilt to Rise near Grand Central

SL Green, the city’s largest office landlord, plans to build a 65-story tower directly west of Grand Central Terminal at 41 East 42nd Street, 150 feet taller than the landmark Chrysler Building, after the city proposed new zoning for the area. The 1.6-million-square-foot tower, to be known as One Vanderbilt, will occupy the entire block bound by 42nd and 43rd Streets between Vanderbilt and Madison Avenues, and would be the corporate home for TD Bank.
The new zoning would only regulate density and square footage on new construction projects, with no restrictions on building height.

One Vanderbilt will be the first tower to rise as part of the Midtown East re-zoning. Approaching 1,200 feet, the giant skyscraper will soar well beyond notable neighbors like The Chrysler Building and MetLife.

The project would transform the block between East 42nd and 43rd streets into a pedestrian plaza and create an underground connection between the new skyscraper and Grand Central.

The plan includes a public waiting room in the lobby of the tower for commuters, which would serve as a street level extension of the terminal, with its own train board.

The tower is part of a plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow for new, taller office towers in one of New York’s premier office districts, while addressing the need for better transportation around Grand Central.

“We are going to keep New York City competitive, and do it through strategic investments and ground-up planning,” Mr. de Blasio said.

“These are the kind of policies that won’t just pay off today, but will lay the groundwork to keep districts like East Midtown thriving and attracting new business for decades to come.”

The initiative is designed to ensure that property owners provide for much-needed improvements at Grand Central Terminal to relieve subway station bottlenecks and create new public open space sought by local stakeholders.

SL Green's CEO will spend $100 million on transit infrastructure, which would help alleviate congestion in an area mainly served by the overburdened 4/5/6 line.

The city’s proposal revives a plan by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to rezone a 73-block area surrounding Grand Central.

During the mayoral election last year, Mr. de Blasio promised to have his own plan and address community concerns.

In the first stage, the city is proposing to begin reviewing a zoning change for what it is calling the Vanderbilt corridor, from 42nd to 47th Streets along Vanderbilt Avenue.

Developers would be allowed to build taller and larger buildings than currently permitted in exchange for substantive transportation improvements.

SL Green Realty Corporation, the city’s largest commercial landlord, dusted off its plan to build a 65-story tower on the 42nd Street block it owns, which had been a part of the Bloomberg proposal.

Developers could buy air rights from two landmark properties, Grand Central Terminal and the former Bowery Savings Bank building, which is owned by SL Green.
The company, as well as any other developers who want to build in the area, would have to go through the city’s land use review process, and should be under public review during the last three months of this year.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Smart Lighting: All the Rage at LightFair in Las Vegas

Lightfair 2014, which took place June 1-5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, featured the latest design and technology in lighting. We had the opportunity to attend Lightfair this year. Lightfair is an industry conference and expo for the lighting industry with lots of displays focusing on commercial and architectural lighting.

Every year, this show presents a variety of luminaires and fixtures for the industrial, home, buildings, and outdoor markets along with a healthy mix of component vendors showing off their modular products that enable the amazing new lighting products.

With the platform of integrated design, exhibitors continued their march toward smarter control of fixtures while others offered networking solutions to make daylighting and color tuning more cognitive. LEDs, meanwhile, continued to shrink while packing higher densities into their devices.

These days, there’s a good amount of news out of Lightfair that’s of particular interest. Some highlights of this year’s Lightfair included Smart Lighting Systems.

Smart lighting, of course, is all the rage, even if it’s only part of the smart home solution. The question, of course, is how smart is this lighting?

Lutron debuted its Smart Bridge, a direct-to-consumer version of the previously announced Smart Bridge Pro home control hub. The Smart Bridge integrates lighting, shade, and a selection of third-party home control products, including Lutron’s Caseta dimmers, Serena shades, GE bulbs, and Honeywell thermostats.

Devices can be configured and controlled through apps on iOS and Android. The Smart Bridge hub will be available this fall with a retail price of $149.

Lutron also debuted new Pico remotes with integrated night lighting and battery-operated roller shades, now available as part of its affordable Serena Shades line. The new roller shades start at $399.

Notable exhibits at the show included the Topaz Lighting booth.

Did you know Topaz has a complete line of recessed downlighting fixtures?  That’s right.

Topaz showcased their vast selection of Nextwave™ products – a leader in world-class recessed downlighting and fixtures for every application – which are competitively priced and made with the highest quality materials. Nextwave™ recessed downlighting is an excellent alternative to the giant manufacturers.

Finally, I had a chance to challenge the CEO at slot-car racing on the elaborate, high performance Topaz track. The slick models were equipped with video cameras, while speeds were tracked by computer.

The challenge in slot-car racing comes in taking curves as fast as possible without causing the car to lose its grip and spin sideways. My car nearly left the track altogether.

Anyhow, that’s my report from Las Vegas. Lightfair will return to the bright lights and big city of New York in 2015. We’ll see you there.

Monday, June 2, 2014

$96M Affordable Housing Sequel Coming to East Flatbush

The former psych ward at the giant Kings County Hospital Center in East Flatbush will soon make way for a 293-unit affordable apartment complex. Located between Albany and Kingston avenues, the hulking structure - shuttered in 2008 - currently sits abandoned, but developer Camba Housing will raze it this summer to build Camba Gardens II, a $96 million sequel to its first effort, called Camba Gardens I, which opened last year.

The new residential development will transform a 97,000 square foot site into 293 units of LEED Gold affordable and supportive housing with facilities and amenities on the current G-Building site at Kings County Hospital Center. 

The building will be a 256,330-square-foot “U” shaped structure, ranging from 5 to 9 stories enclosing a courtyard facing CAMBA Gardens I to the east.

A roof-top solar panel system will provide at least 50% of common areas’ electricity needs.

The development will include multi-purpose spaces for social services, adult education, health services, indoor/outdoor recreation, and the arts. The project will participate in the Enterprise Green Communities Initiative, NYSERDA Multi-Family Performance Program and LEED for Homes program.

Camba Gardens I, which opened in October, is made up of two affordable rental buildings at 690 and 738 Albany Avenue, also the sites of former hospital buildings. They boast 209 apartments between them plus a patio, a green wall, and rooftop solar panels.

The 256,330-square-foot follow-up, designed by Dattner Architects, and built by Bruno Frustaci Contracting, will be equally green when it opens in the fall of 2016.

Camba Gardens II will house:

  • 175 Studio Apartments,
  • 28 one-bedrooms; 
  • 62 two-bedrooms;
  • 28 three bedrooms;
  • Basement facilities and services to help residents with their finances, job hunts, and medical issues
CAMBA Gardens Phase II is participating in the NYSERDA Multi-Family Performance Program, is sustainable and transit-oriented and is designed to achieve a LEED Gold rating and meet the Enterprise Green Communities/HPD criteria, the first comprehensive green building framework for affordable housing. 

This LEED-Gold, energy-efficient and sustainable development will feature CAMBA on-site services, 24-hour security, laundry rooms, computer/study room, two community rooms and well-appointed, non-toxic finishes.

CAMBA Gardens Phase II will provide both indoor recreational spaces and over 60,000 square feet of outdoor recreational and landscaped spaces, including a landscaped roof terrace, children’s play area, tenant gardening beds, walking paths and a Shona sculpture garden.

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