Thursday, July 31, 2014

Major Development to Change Downtown Jamaica Skyline

The station area where the Long Island Rail Road, AirTrain to JFK, three subway lines and numerous bus routes intersect has a number of major development projects in the pipeline. While more than 300,000 straphangers pass through downtown Jamaica every day, one of the major changes coming in the next few years will be the skyline.
Able Hotel’s 240-room Hilton Garden Inn will not be the only hotel downtown — a Courtyard/Fairfield Inn and Four Points by Sheraton are planned for the same block.

With more than 500 rooms within walking distance from the transit hub, the area is set to capture some of the travelers who may otherwise stay near Kennedy Airport or simply pass through Jamaica on their way to other neighborhoods.

The downtown area will also see an increase in foot traffic, thanks to a number of residential projects, most notably the 26-story building across from Able’s hotel on the northern side of the track being built by the BRP Companies, the same firm that is finishing up construction on Macedonia Plaza, the 143-unit apartment building in downtown Flushing.

Reaching for the sky from the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue, BRP’s $225 million, 400-unit building will join several luxury and mixed-income developments that are adding hundreds of apartments in the area.

The project, which Greater Jamaica calls Site 6, is in an area of the downtown characterized at the street level by a traffic-choked intersection and a hodgepodge of low-rent retail properties that promises to be unrecognizable in a few years.

Duane Reade, which currently has a lease at the corner through 2018 and the option to renew until 2023, will probably relocate during construction to the retail spaces beneath the railroad tracks that have struggled to attract tenants since they were opened in 2012.

The MTA’s East Side Access project to send the LIRR into Grand Central will bring even more travelers to the neighborhood and the AirTrain, which continues to see increased ridership numbers, can easily double in capacity.

The system now runs two-car trains, but all 10 stations were built to accommodate four cars.

Other public works will also be getting a face-lift.

To help alleviate congestion,  the city is going to extend Atlantic Avenue — which currently switches from a six-lane highway to a two-lane street when it crosses the Van Wyck Expressway and heads downtown — toward the LIRR station on the track’s south side.

On the north side the city is planning to widen Archer Avenue and create public plazas that will be more pedestrian friendly.

Private investment is also filling in.

East of the station, developer United American is working to renovate three buildings into a retail project. United, which successfully lured H&M to a project in Brooklyn, is in talks with the Swedish clothing retailer about opening shop in Jamaica.

According to the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, there is $3.7 billion worth of unmet consumer demand within a 3-mile radius of Downtown Jamaica.

In an effort to satiate that market, the economic development group last year contracted Blumenfeld Development Group to transform two ground-level parking lots at 168th Street, between 90th and Jamaica Avenues.
The estimated $50 million project would see Blumenfeld increase parking capacity of one lot to a full garage while converting the other into 160,000-square-foot retail center with a big-box store.

Jamaica used to be home to department stores such as Macy’s, Mays and Gertz, which closed some three decades ago.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Lights Out for D.C.'s Largest Electrical Contractor

Truland Systems, the Washington, D.C.-area's largest electrical contractor, suddenly closed its doors this week, leaving about 1,000 workers without a job. The electricians' union, Local 26, filed a forced Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in hopes of liquidating the company's assets to get more than $1 million it says the company owes employees in back wages. Truland Group, which had $371 million in 2012 revenue, had been ranked #8 among the nation’s largest electrical contractors.

Employees at the company's Reston, Virginia headquarters headed out for good on Monday after the firm filed for Chapter 7 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Truland's decision to shut down its operations shocked many in Washington's commercial real estate industry, impacted more than 1,000 employees and dozens of active construction projects across the region.

The privately-held company was connected to most of the D.C. area's largest construction firms including Clark Construction, which it had more than two dozen ongoing projects.

Employees said they had received an email Sunday night that had left them shaken and confused. The email stated that the company was liquidating.

On Monday, Truland Systems and two of its affiliated companies, Truland Service Corp. and Truland Walker Seal Transportation Inc., filed for Chapter 7 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

The filing took a dozen pages to document the list of  778 creditors, representing every letter in the alphabet. The company had been reorganizing in hopes of selling itself to investors over the past three months.

The bankruptcy filing was the latest in a series of events since last Friday, when company officials, having missed making payroll, promised that employees would be paid on Monday.

Then, on Sunday, a restructuring expert retained to help sort out the company's finances told top officials to tell their employees not to show up for work the next day because the company was going to be shutting down.

Truland had fallen behind on debts and was dealing with unpaid projects.

"Projects such as a data center development for the federal government in Utah were part of what dragged down the company's finances," according to an anonymous Truland official.

Truland Group Inc. is a third generation, family-owned firm with a history that extends back to 1909.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Construction of New Kosciuszko Bridge to Begin in Fall

The 75-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge is in disrepair and a project to replace it will begin in the coming weeks. A joint venture of Skanska USA, Kiewit and ECCO III Enterprises has been awarded a contract by the NYS Department of Transportation to design and build the new Kosciuszko Bridge, a project with a total value of $555 million. The project that will transform the Queens skyline with a sleek modern structure across Newtown Creek. Construction is slated to begin this fall, with completion scheduled for 2018.

The DOT held a meeting last week to discuss details of the $555 million first phase of the project that will replace the 75-year-old bridge that carries more than 160,000 vehicles over the Brooklyn Queens Expressway each day.

The new Kosciuszko Bridge will be a modern cable-stayed design, the first of its type in New York City, and will be built to last for a hundred years.

Other features will include a new bikeway and walkway that will offer spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline as well as new parks and green spaces, increased access to the Newtown Creek waterfront and enhancements, such as decorative lighting, tree plantings and new sidewalks.

The first phase of the project will construct a Queens-bound span that will handle traffic in both directions.

The old bridge will be disassembled and floated away on barges on Newtown Creek. The second phase will be the construction of a Brooklyn-bound span. The entire project is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Skanska will design and build new eastbound structures for the Kosciuszko Bridge to carry the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway between Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn and the Long Island Expressway Interchange in Queens.

It will also perform the demolition of the existing bridge structures and buildings on acquired properties to clear the right-of-way for construction activities.

The new bridge will improve traffic safety, reduce congestion and improve travel speeds by including wider lanes and extra lanes in both directions. It will have a reduced road incline, which will make it easier for trucks to maintain consistent speeds on the bridge.

The current state of the bridge causes daily traffic tie-ups stretching far into both Brooklyn and Queens.

“A minor accident on the Kosciuszko Bridge can shortly slow traffic down on the Robert F. Kennedy and the Williamsburg bridges and ripple eastwards up the Long Island Expressway all within minutes.”

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said: "The aging Kosciuszko Bridge carries more than 160,000 vehicles between Brooklyn and Queens each day and is essential to local and regional commerce.”

The DOT also announced a program that sets aside $70 million to ensure that small and disadvantaged businesses are part of the process.

“This critical investment in our transportation infrastructure in New York City will keep travelers safe for decades to come and will support environmental and quality of life improvements in the communities it serves."

The original Kosciuszko Bridge opened in 1939, and is named for a Polish general in the American Revolutionary War. It is more than 6,000 feet in length.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Demolition Set for Graffiti Mecca 5Pointz, $300M Redevelopment

After nine months, the owners of the iconic 5-Pointz building in Long Island City, have finally secured a permit to demolish the structure. Developer Jerry Wolkoff plans to replace the building with a pair of residential towers — one 47-stories high, the other 41 stories. The $300 million project is slated to begin early next year, and provide for thousands of construction jobs. Demolition of the former graffiti-mecca will begin within two weeks.

The owner has plans to dramatically remaking the entire block along Jackson Avenue next to the Court Square subway station.

The project at 45-46 Davis Street would encompass the entire city block along Jackson Avenue, bordered by Davis and Crane Streets and the Sunnyside Yards.

The Wolkoff family is planning to replace 5Pointz with two massive residential towers — 47 and 41 stories tall.

The residential complex will reach 498 feet at its tallest point and will encompass a little more than one million square feet — 977,086 devoted to residential space and 39,765 set aside for commercial use.

There will be 1116 market rate apartments across the two structures, along with 210 affordable housing units. The majority of units would be 1-bedroom apartments and the rest would be a mix of studios and 2-bedrooms

Plans include a mix of shops and restaurants, a supermarket, an open-air concourse between the towers and a park. The base of the two buildings would be set aside for retail shops and artists' galleries. There would also be a public park in the rear of the site.

Wolkoff said the development would include studio space for artists, as well as public space for artists to show their work.

There would also be commercial space on the ground floor, parking for 250 cars, bicycle parking within the building, storage and pedestrian walkways.

Since the early 1990s, aerosol artists have transformed the decaying post-industrial relic next to the Court Square subway station into a renowned work of urban art.

Graffiti artists had used every inch of the building's exterior as a canvas and outdoor exhibit space for years.

The building housed scores of artists’ studios until 2009, when an outer stairway collapsed, crushing and nearly killing one of the building's tenants.

"It's not going to end, it's just transitioning," said David Wolkoff, whose family has owned the building for decades. He said the warehouse was never intended to be a permanent site.

Artists’ efforts to save the graffiti covered building in 2013, were unsuccessful.

The project has been on the drawing board for a while and the Wolkoff family, which has owned the old factory since 1971, and long supported the work of the graffiti artists. They have decided it is time to replace it with a new development.

“Long Island City is growing, and we think that now is the time to add to the neighborhood,” said Wolkoff.

Wolkoff purchased the old Neptune Water Meter factory (built in 1901) in the early 1970s, with dreams of building a one million square foot office building on the property. Plans stalled when Wolkoff failed to find businesses willing to move to Long Island City.

The New York City Council approved a special permit granting Wolkoff permission to build residential high rises on the property in October 2013. The owner needed the City Council's approval because plans call for buildings that are 41 and 47 floors, respectively--heights higher than zoning regulations in that area allow.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

775-Foot Tower to Surpass 388 Bridge St. as Brooklyn’s Tallest Building

JDS Development and the Chetrit Group are looking to build a 70-story, 775-foot-tall skyscraper on one of Downtown Brooklyn's busiest corners. The partners plan to demolish the existing structure 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension and build what would be the borough’s tallest tower, topping the current 590-foot record holder at 388 Bridge Street. The developers acquired the squat six-story building between Fleet Street and DeKalb Avenue – adjacent to Junior’s Cheesecake - for $43.5 million in June.
Click to enlarge
388 Bridge Street will soon lose its spot as Brooklyn’s tallest tower. The 590-foot building’s status will be short-lived, as several super tall towers are getting ready to rise.

Residential builders are engaged in a high-stakes game of one-upmanship in the neighborhood, with each planning to build a taller tower than the last.

The 53-story Bridge Street building will soon be surpassed by Avalon Willoughby West, a 596-foot tower under construction at 100 Willoughby Street that will have 861 rental units in 57 stories.

Then there’s City Point, the 1.9 million-square-foot complex across the block, whose third phase will also include a mega-tower.

Once completed, the 775-foot behemoth coming to 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension will change the Brooklyn skyline and dwarf them all, with 495 apartments spread over 446,734 square feet and nearly 109,000 square feet of commercial space.

Developers can build as tall as they want in downtown Brooklyn following a rezoning in 2004, and they’re taking advantage of the opportunity to build units with pricey views of Manhattan.

And this development team knows a thing or two about tall towers.

JDS Development has already started to turn the Steinway Hall site on West 57th Street in Manhattan into 1,350-foot tower, and is working on a hulking rental project at 626 First Avenue with 800 apartments.

The Chetrit Group, famous for his residential conversions of the Chelsea Hotel and the Sony Building, owns what is now America’s second tallest building, the Willis Tower in Chicago.

The project at 340-366 Flatbush Extension will be designed by SHoP Architects, which also designed Barclay’s Center and the Domino Sugar redevelopment, and is known for creating interesting and innovative buildings.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Two New Residential Projects Planned for Albemarle Road in Flatbush

One of Brooklyn’s most active residential developers, Hello Living, plans to construct a 23-story building in East Flatbush in Brooklyn. If approved, the single-story Verizon warehouse building at 1580 Nostrand Avenue and Albemarle Road would be demolished and replaced by Hello-Nostrand, a 153 unit luxury building totaling 129,000 square feet. The developer is also planning to build a 12-story, 44-unit luxury condominium building a few blocks away at 2417 Albemarle Road.

A two-story building will be built on the adjacent lot at 2902 Albemarle for a community facility and parking.

The 12-story tower at 2417 Albemarle Road is being designed by Zambrano architects and will 44 units, a gym and 30 parking spaces.

The first and second floors at 1580 Nostrand Avenue would house an ambulatory and diagnostic health care facility and medical office, with apartments spread throughout the third through 23rd floors.

Condos units at Hello-Albemarle will be priced from $210,000 to $380,000 and come with a terrace, as well as a private elevator landing.

Developer Eli Karp is expanding beyond Prospect Heights and Lefferts Gardens, where Hello Living’s development previously had been centered.

Referring to the location as "The New Frontier”, Karp believes that buyers will begin looking at the area as they get priced out of other neighborhoods.

“With limited real estate around the park, the area to the east and south of Prospect Park is now in prime position for development. It is one of a few areas where there is still potential for equity and where tax abatements are still possible for new construction.”

The group has completed eight projects in Brooklyn and has two other projects in the pipeline, including:
  • Hello-Lenox, a 56-unit condominium at 271 Lenox Road, and 
  • Hello-New York, a 40-unit building at 651 New York Avenue in Brooklyn.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Astoria Cove Developers Increase Housing Units

The developers of Astoria Cove - a 1.7 million-square-foot residential development in Queens - have increased the percentage of affordable housing to 20%, hoping to get permission from City Hall to build the 1,700 unit complex on the Astoria waterfront. The plan calls for three residential towers, commercial space, a school, and green space on the currently industrial site along the East River. An earlier proposal had been approved by the Department of City Planning in April. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz plans to issue her recommendation by July 30.

The Astoria Cove project, along with the Hallets Point Redevelopment - which has a green light from the city, will transform a gritty waterfront stretch of Astoria off Roosevelt Island.

Astoria Cove calls for 1,689-units of housing in a combination of 8-story townhouses, and waterfront towers rising between 12 and 30-stories.

Plans also include 117,000-square-feet of retail space, a new school and a public park.

Hallets Point will add an additional 2,200 units of housing and a supermarket to the Astoria waterfront, as well as an esplanade along the East River.

The twin projects have been generously planned in terms of public passive recreation and would be a boon for the city.

The East River waterfront would get a major facelift to accommodate eateries and increase public access. 

Astoria Cove would bring 1,689-units of housing in a combination of townhouses and towers along 26th Avenue, between 9th and 4th Streets.

The inland buildings would top out at 8-stories, while the apartment buildings near the water would rise between 12-30-stories. 345 apartments would be set aside for affordable housing. 

The development would include public access to the waterfront, a 25,000-square-foot supermarket, and 117-square-feet of retail space with a 456-seat elementary school.

The developer is also exploring options for a residents-only shuttle service to and from the 30th Street N/Q station, about a mile away.

It's one of two major housing developments proposed for the Hallets Point peninsula — a chunk of land that juts out into the East River, just south of Astoria Park - a stretch of the waterfront that is largely desolate except for the NYCHA Astoria Houses, which takes up the other half of the Hallets Point peninsula. 

The peninsula certainly needs development.  Presently, the site is a mix of vacant lots and underused industrial structures. Area residents welcome the new amenities development would bring — particularly schools and supermarkets — as long as they were accessible to NYCHA residents as well.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

South Bronx Waterfront $500M Redevelopment Plan

Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. has announced a $500 million development proposal for a section of the Harlem River. The Special Harlem River Waterfront District plan calls for new residential towers and a waterfront esplanade to replace a dusty half-mile stretch of businesses between 138th and 149th streets. The project, which hopes to emulate the Brooklyn Bridge Park and its successful integration of former industrial area into community-used space, will bring 1,529 units of mixed-income housing and 3,500 new jobs to the Lower Concourse.

At an estimated cost of $500 million, the proposal puts to use the 2009 rezoning and will add over 1.1 million square feet of residential space, 865,000 of commercial space, and 269,000 square feet of community space to the largely neglected area.

Isolated between an active freight train line and the Major Deegan Expressway, this 10-block stretch of commercial businesses is a gritty, hard-to-access swath of parking lots, storage warehouses, homeless camps and dead-end streets.

Despite this, for many years neighborhood residents have sought access to the larger 1.5-mile section of Harlem River waterfront that includes this proposed development. Unlike the Manhattan shoreline of the river, the Bronx side has very few access points. To the south, the riverbank is closed off by a train yard and a waste management company handling demolition debris.

To the north, the expressway and a Metro North train yard block the shore. On the section in between, which includes Diaz's 10-block vision, the Harlem River is almost completely cut off by the Oak Point Link, a 1.9-mile train line built above the water.

The scale of those proposals by Bronx officials, which call for office and residential towers costing $500 million and include as many as 1,500 apartments, has lifted hopes among some owners of restaurants and other businesses that have opened in the gentrifying Concourse and Mott Haven areas.

The new businesses as well as apartment complexes built between Park Avenue and the Major Deegan Expressway have staked a claim to a gritty area filled with chain-link fences, several utility and recycling plants and the polluted Harlem River.

"It's definitely heading in the right direction," said Joe Pego, general manager of New York Recycling, which operates a recycling facility near the water and East 144th Street. "It's like what happened with Williamsburg and Long Island City, with the new businesses and residential areas. But all that change can make people uneasy."

Plans for the so-called Special Harlem River Waterfront District call for a publicly accessible waterfront esplanade, along with residential and office towers that could reach 400 feet, said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Nearby, Macombs Dam Park draws thousands of visitors to its track and baseball fields, and the Bronx Children's Museum is slated to open in 2015 on city-owned parkland.

The Bronx Terminal Market-Gateway Mall was completed in 2009 on the former sites of a wholesale fruit and vegetable market and the Art Deco-influenced Bronx County House of Detention. Large tenants at the mall now include Target, Home Depot and BJ's Wholesale Club.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

63-Story Tower to Replace St. John's Downtown Building

St. John's University sold its downtown building for $223 million last year, capitalizing on the city's soaring condo market. Now, real estate investors Steven Witkoff and Fisher Brothers plan to demolish the lower Manhattan academic facility located at 101 Murray Street and erect a 950 foot mixed-use condominium tower.
The 63-story skyscraper being designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox will be located on the northeast corner of Murray and West Streets, and will house 129 luxury condominiums.

The new building will be named 101 Tribeca.

The existing structure - built in 1983 - sits on a 31,028 square-foot footprint that affords the partnership maximum design flexibilities in order to build a residential tower.

The underlying zoning provides no height restriction, and allows for the development of a residential building totaling more than 430,000 square feet.

Rising to approximately 950 feet, 101 Tribeca will be taller than 30 Park Place and 56 Leonard Street in height -- making it the tallest residential building in Lower Manhattan.

The new skyscraper also will rank as the third tallest building in downtown, behind 1,776-foot One World Trade Center and 977-foot 150 Greenwich Street.

While no completion date has been announced, the university is in the process of vacating the existing 10-story building, paving the way for demolition.

Lower Manhattan continues to evolve at a record-setting pace, and the $223 million price highlights how the city's soaring condo market has prompted developers to pay big for parcels on which to build.

Steven Witkoff, chairman of The Witkoff Group, says, “The partnership of Witkoff and Fisher Brothers is helping to redefine Downtown Manhattan, one of the fastest-growing areas in New York City. We believe 101 Murray will be another highly sought-after destination.”

St. John’s Tobin College of Business and School of Risk Management, the Global Studies language programs, and other academic courses which had been housed at 101 Murray Street will move to St. John’s new Astor Place campus this fall.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

NYC's Largest Apartment Building - 106 Stories

The developer behind the city's tallest tower, 1 World Trade Center, has proposed building the city's largest residential tower near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel at 520 West 41st Street. The building proposed by developer Larry Silverstein will boast more floors than any other building in the city standing at 106 stories compared to the city's tallest tower, 1 World Trade, which stands at 104 stories.
Silverstein’s glass-draped tower would have 1.14 million square feet of residential space housing 1,400 apartments with 280 affordable units, as well as 175,000 square feet of office space, and 300,000 square feet of retail on the lower floors.

At 1,100 feet tall, the tower will be more than 300 less than the 1,479-foot Nordstrom Tower, set to rise at 225 West 57th Street, as well the residential towers at 432 Park Avenue and 111 West 57th Street, which are planning to rise 1,397 and 1,350 feet.
Silverstein Properties has already developed two large residential projects on the West Side with more than 2,000 units combined in Silver Towers, the twin-towered rental buildings at 600 West 42nd Street, and the 41-story tower at 1 River Place.

The development firm just completed the 72-story 4 World Trade Center, and the retail base of 3 World Trade Center and 2 World Trade Center to street level.

The new buildings are just part of a tidal wave of residential construction getting underway on Manhattan's Far West Side.

Brookfield Properties has changed plans for its Manhattan West project at Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street and is adding as many as 900 residential units to a formerly entirely office project.

Nearby, The Atelier II -a 61-story condominium at 605 West 42nd Street, is under construction right around the corner, and Extell Development's 52-story rental at 547 Tenth Avenue is in the works.

The project is also down the block from the 62-story MiMA tower, which means things are getting crowded by the river -- all residential byproducts of the Hudson Yards mega-project.

But the 520 West 41st development would require zoning changes.

Current zoning only allows for about half of the residential space Silverstein wants to include at 520 West 41st Street. The building is located within the Hudson Yard Special District, where rules stipulate that buildings should primarily provide commercial space.

The developer is arguing that this particular plot has more in common with the residential blocks just north in Hell’s Kitchen, in part because the Lincoln Tunnel outbound approach cuts it off from the rest of Hudson Yards.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2017, with completion expected by 2020.

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Thursday, July 10, 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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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nordstrom to Be Tallest Residential Building on Earth

The new Nordstrom tower planned for the increasingly crowded Billionaire’s Row is slated to become the tallest in the world.  The giant building set to rise at 225 West 57th Street will rise to 1,479 feet above street level, New York YIMBY reports, with a bonus spire putting it at 1,775 feet—just one foot shorter than the World Trade Center.

Once again, the city will boast the tallest roof in the country, robbing Chicago of the honor with its 1,451-foot Willis Tower. When completed in 2018, it will rank second only to One World Trade Center, among the city's tallest buildings.

Extell Development is gearing up to build one of the tallest towers in the world, one that would offer sweeping views of Central Park a block to the north. The company is aiming high: a new 1,479-foot residential tower on the site just east of Broadway between 57th and 58th streets.

Plans for the building are moving forward quickly at a time that a new type of skyscraper is beginning to emerge on the Manhattan skyline.

The skyscraper at 225 West 57th Street is expected to rise 1,479 feet, as it glides to a pointed peak above the skyline. The 85-story building will be just up the street from One57, while construction has already risen above 1,000 feet on the 1420-foot condominium tower at 432 Park Avenue.

Plans for the building are moving forward quickly at a time that a new type of skyscraper is beginning to emerge on the Manhattan skyline.

The Nordstrom Tower has all the approvals necessary to begin construction, and once Extell Development amasses the required funds, the skyscraper will become the latest in a family of super-tall buildings in the area—111 West 57th Street, One57, 432 Park Avenue, 53 West 53rd Street, among others.

The tower's bottom seven floors will host a massive Nordstrom department store—the city's first.

For decades, office towers accounted for most of the towers built more than 600 feet high, while top residential apartments were generally found in Upper East Side cooperatives.

But now a handful of developers are building very tall, slender luxury residential towers, betting that the wealthy will pay for great views.

Extell, currently one of the city's most prolific developers, has been on the vanguard of this change.

A few blocks east of the Nordstrom tower site on 57th Street, the company is wrapping up work on One57, a 1,004-foot tower, where two buyers have agreed to pay more than $95 million each, for two penthouse apartments there, a record price.

As with all skyscrapers, it's the economics that makes them possible - and it is a strong market. Moreover, In Manhattan particularly, people are willing to pay a great deal—millions and tens of millions of dollars for apartments in the sky. There is a huge market for that.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

After Years of Delays Flushing Commons Officially Breaks Ground

This past week, officials broke ground on Phase 1 of the massive Flushing Commons project. The nearly $900 million commercial and residential development is being constructed on the former Municipal Parking Lot #1, at 39th Avenue and 138th Street in downtown Flushing, and will include a new YMCA and a town square.
Monday marked the official groundbreaking for Flushing Commons, a massive mix of housing, commercial and community space being built to the tune of nearly $1 billion on the sprawling five-acre former municipal parking lot.

The first phase, to be complete by 2017 includes 150 apartments, 220,000 square feet of commercial space, a YMCA, a one-acre public square and a 1,000-space underground parking garage.

The 1.8 million-square-foot space also includes that will bring much-needed green space to the congested area.

“It’s hard to overestimate how transformational this will be for Flushing,” said Michael Meyer of F&T Group, which is developing the site with the Rockefeller Group Development Corp., and AECOM Capital.

“This site is really the 57th St. and Fifth Ave. of Queens,” he said. “It is one block from the 7 train and all the bus routes.”

The second phase will include another 450 apartments, as well as a YMCA, a 1.5-acre open space, and an additional 130,000 square feet of commercial space with parking for 600 more vehicles. The entire project is expected to be complete by 2020.

Despite such rosy projections, the project took years to launch. It’s been almost 10 years since the city announced it would sell the large municipal parking lot to developers.

The ambitious plan to transform the 5-acre municipal parking lot into Flushing Commons was stalled several times as community leaders and elected officials squabbled with the city and developers over parking and other concerns.

It was revived in 2010 and successfully navigated the city’s land use approval process.

The project, first announced over 10 years ago, is heralded by supporters including City Councilman Peter Koo as the key to revitalizing downtown Flushing.

But others, including some local merchants, worry construction will add to current traffic woes and push out small businesses.

The city spent a decade eyeing the potential development of Flushing’s 5-acre Municipal Lot 1, bounded by Union Street, 39th Avenue, 138th Street and 37th Avenue.

For the past two years, Flushing has waited with bated breath — and a slight dose of skepticism — for the proposed transformation of Municipal Lot 1 to actually occur.

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