Sunday, December 27, 2015

#1 Best of 2015 - World's Skinniest Skyscraper on West 57th

The New York City skyline is the most famous in the world, and if you look closely, there’s a new shape that’s starting to stand out. That shape? Slender. JDS Development has a project that takes that idea to a new level.  A 60-foot wide lot at 111 West 57th Street will soon be the home of the skinniest skyscraper in the world.  In addition, the building will soar to an incredible height: 1428 feet – 31 feet taller than the rooftop of 432 Park Avenue. Steinway Tower will have 3 high-speed elevators, and each floor will be its own ultra-luxury 5,000 square foot apartment. It will be the city’s tallest building ever built without union labor.

“Land is very scarce, especially in the most desirable parts in the city. That’s why you seeing this trend of taller buildings being built on smaller parcels of land,” says developer Michael Stern.

His firm, JDS Development Group, has a project that takes the idea of slender to a new level. It will even top the High Cliff in Hong Kong, currently the most slender skyscraper in the world.

When completed, the projected $1 billion tower at 111 West 57th Street will rank as the skinniest skyscraper in the world.

The property would also rank, by a large margin, as the tallest and most complex structure ever built in the city without union labor. In the process, it could throw open the door for nonunion construction firms, which typically undercut their rivals' costs by as much as 20%, to compete for the most-sophisticated jobs.

Of the seven super tall towers going up in the city, 111 West 57th is the only one to use non-union labor, and union leaders are not pleased.

In a stunning demonstration of just how far nonunion firms have come, last year one of the penthouses in the Walker Tower, another JDS Development project, sold for nearly $51 million. The price set a record for the area, and in doing so proved that nonunion workers can deliver apartments with a fit and finish capable of meeting the expectations of even the wealthiest and most discerning condo buyers from around the world.

The building will sit on a lot just 60 feet wide, and will be taller than its recently completed neighboring, One57, and even slimmer than nearby 432 Park Avenue.

At 1,428 feet, 111 West 57th Street will briefly hold the title of  Tallest Residential Building in the Western Hemisphere, trumping 432 Park by a mere 31 feet.

But come 2018, that title will pass to Nordstrom Tower, one block over at 225 West 57th Street, which is slated to rise 1,479 feet. A soaring spire will bring that building's overall height to 1,775 feet — just a foot shy of One World Trade Center.

The model-thin skyscraper will incorporate the historical base of the old Steinway Hall, with construction of 111 West 57th Street expected to begin in mid-2015. The building will offer a total of 55 units, spread between 80 floors.

Steinway Tower will become the most slender building in the world because of its very narrow floor plate. It will be entirely unprecedented in its dimensions which are 58 feet wide, while rising around 1,428 feet tall. That will give the building a slenderness ratio of about 1:25 when it is completed in 2017, while the ratio for most buildings is well under 1 to 20.

These new, slender skyscrapers are cropping up thanks to advances in building science coupled with eye-popping real estate prices. “The price that people are willing to pay for the unobstructed Central Park view is really the only reason these buildings can be economically feasible.”

Construction began in February 2014, and so far, not a lot of progress has been made. 111 West 57th Street has all the approvals necessary to begin construction, and has secured a $500 million construction loan.

The skyscraper will become the latest in a family of super-tall buildings in the area— One57, 432 Park Avenue, 53 West 53rd Street, among others.

The Details

The bottom six floors of the 80-story building will be retail, while the remainder of the tower will house a total of  55 full-floor and multi-floor apartments with 15-foot ceilings and unobstructed views of Central Park across to Long Island City, and out to Long Island. The penthouse will sit over fourteen hundred feet in the air.

And the views from this extraordinary perch in the sky? They’re likely amongst the best in Manhattan. “There’s just going to be nothing like it across the entire city,” says Stern.

“You really get this floor-through experience that you’re floating in the city. It’s going to be truly spectacular.”

But building such a slender apartment tower is not always so easy.

Engineers on the project have to deal with a variety of issues ranging from dampening the impact of wind on such a slender structure, to making it feel not so slender. A huge steel weight will be suspended within the top of the building to stop it from swaying in the wind.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

#2 Best of 2015 - City Approves 1,500-ft One Vanderbilt Tower

The city’s largest office landlord moved one step closer to construction of its planned 65-story tower directly west of Grand Central Terminal at 41 East 42nd Street this week, as the City Planning Commission unanimously approved SL Green's plans for the 1,514-foot-tall One Vanderbilt and a rezoning of the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor. The 1.6-million-square-foot tower, which will be more than 450 feet taller than the nearby Chrysler Building, 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 Vanderbilt Avenue corridor re-zoning.

When completed in 2020, the skyscraper's roof will reach 1,414 feet -- with its spire extending to 1,514 feet -- making it the city's third-tallest building, after One World Trade Center and the soon to be built Nordstrom Tower.

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 will spend $210 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 his election campaign, Mr. de Blasio promised to have his own plan and address community concerns.

As part of first stage, city planners have approved a zoning change for what is called 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, 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 at 110 East 42nd Street.
In exchange for its package of transit improvements, the city is granting SL Green 535,644 square feet of extra development rights. The company also intends to transfer the air rights above the Bowery Savings Bank building, which it owns, to construction of One Vanderbilt.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

#3 Best of 2015 - Builder to Construct 750-ft Fifth Ave Tower

Condominium construction in the area just north of Madison Square Park, from 24th to 30th streets and Lexington to Sixth avenues is booming. Now construction giant Lend Lease, which has worked on building the city's tallest residential towers at One57 and 432 Park Avenue, is getting into the development game. The company plans to construct a 750-foot ultra-luxury apartment spire at 281 Fifth Avenue, on the corner of East 30th Street, and has purchased a stake in the $400 million project which it will co-develop with Victor Group.

Victor purchased the development site last June for $99 million and hired Lend Lease to handle construction of the 51-story condo tower. Talks eventually progressed to have the construction giant take an ownership stake.

Lend Lease and Victor Group will have equal control and remain sole owners of the Rafael Vinoly designed project on the Southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and East 30th Street.

The new 250,065 square foot tower will have retail at its base and ultra-luxury residences on the upper floors. Vinoly is also the architect of 432 Park Avenue, which is being built by Lend Lease.

The current wave of construction projects in the neighborhood is expected to boost the area’s profile considerably. Just down the block, an 830-foot residential tower will soon be going up at 15 East 30th Street, while a 777-foot tall condominium is slated to rise eight blocks to the south at 45 East 22nd Street.

The partners are in the process of securing a construction loan for the 140-unit building, on which they expect to break ground early next year.

"We think the NoMad neighborhood is one of the most dynamic parts of the city, an intersection for the tech sector, food and nightlife, and everything that's happening in the midtown south market," said Melissa Burch, who recently joined Lend Lease from developer Forest City Ratner.

Victor Group has been in the process of raising money for the building through the EB-5 program, in which foreign investors can put at least $500,000 into U.S. development deals in exchange for permanent green cards.

Lend Lease is currently preparing the site for demolition of the existing buildings. Construction on the new building is expected to get underway in early 2016.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

#4 Best of 2015 - Massive $345M South Bronx Development

From East 149th Street and Brook Avenue all the way north to East 153rd Street remains the largest track of city-owned land in the South Bronx. Located in Melrose, adjacent to the Hub, will rise a massive 985 unit housing complex the likes of which the Bronx has never seen. La Central, as the massive development project will be called, will be constructed by BRP Development and The Hudson Companies. The five-building complex will also include a new YMCA, recording studio, an astronomy lab and observatory, plus retail space and supportive housing for veterans.

La Central will be comprised of 5 buildings with 985 units of mixed-income housing and will offer a plethora of amenities, including a 48,000 square foot YMCA, 43,000 square feet of retail space, 5,000 square foot community space and a recording studio.

The complex will be topped off with the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab, which will include a rooftop observatory and telescope, plus a rooftop farm. 

The project comes on the heels of the construction of the income-regulated Via Verde complex, which opened two years ago.

Construction consists of two-phases on approximately 185,000 square feet of city-owned land and has a projected price tag of $345 million.

The new development is expected to break ground early next year, officials said.

The development will also include a diabetes prevention program, operated by Bronx medical giant Montefiore Medical Center, and 96 units will be set aside for formerly homeless veterans and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, to be operated by health and housing service provider Comunilife.

Project Details:

    Building A:
211 affordable apartments; approximately 48,000 square foot YMCA-community facility; a diabetes prevention program operated by Montefiore Medical Center; rooftop farm; approximately 19,000 square feet of new retail space.

    Building B:
279 affordable apartments; approximately 24,000 square feet of retail space, including restaurant space; cellar level garage with approximately 138 parking spaces.

    Building C:
137 affordable apartments; 5,000 square feet of community space consisting of a recording studio and curate workshops and open the recording studio to projects for and by the community.

    Building D:
160 affordable apartments plus a 10,000 square foot mental health clinic operated by Comunilife that will work with veterans living within the development and individuals within the community.

    Building E:
198 affordable apartments, plus the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab – a rooftop telescope to be used by the Bronx High School of Science, and a daycare facility
click to enlarge

The approximately 7,000 square-foot triangular vacant lot at the intersection of Brook and Bergen Avenues will be developed as open space, accessible to the general public.

La Central is geared toward families: nearly 50 percent of the affordable units will have at least two bedrooms.

But unlike Via Verde, all of the nearly 1,000 affordable apartments are slated to be rentals.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

$65M Nursing Home & Health Facility Planned for Red Hook

Oxford Nursing Home is planning to build a 138,000 square-foot, 200-bed nursing home, as well as a 37,000 square-foot ambulatory and diagnostic treatment facility in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The present facility, located at 144 South Oxford Street, will be closed and replaced by a soon-to-be-constructed eight-story building at 141 Conover Street in Red Hook.

The $65 million project, more than a decade in the making, moved one step closer to becoming a reality after earning a stamp of approval from Community Board 6.

The L-shared property, bound by Van Brunt, Conover, Sullivan and King streets, occupies about two-thirds of the block and is owned by Oxford Nursing Home under the name Conover King Realty LLC, according to city records.

Oxford looked at Red Hook and saw that’s it's no longer a manufacturing area—it's an area that has a mix of uses, including residential uses; in fact, there are some residences right on the same block as the proposed development.

The nursing home operator plans to open an urgent care clinic on the site, which it would make accessible to the entire community, not just nursing-home residents. It said it was too early to pick an urgent care operator, but it has had "serious discussions" with several health care providers.

The project still requires a walk through the Uniform Land Use Review process, because the block must be rezoned for residential purposes.

Oxford Nursing Home’s is looking to rezone the entire block to a Special Mixed Use District (MX-5) that sanctions residential as well as light manufacturing on the property.

The facility’s current building on South Oxford Street was constructed around 1930 and was later converted to a nursing home.

The Fort Greene center will close once the Red Hook site is complete and about 130 existing employees will be moved to the new space.

Oxford will add on another 100 employees and has committed to hiring locally as well as working with neighborhood businesses.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 pending proper approvals, after which the multiple low-rise structures on the site will be demolished.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

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 1,789 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 2016, playing out in three phases. Phase I will see the construction of a 53-story, 501,000-square-foot building with 658 apartments. Occupancy is expected for 2018.

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

The partnership picked up a $640 million construction loan to fund the development of the 1,789-unit luxury rental complex in the Queens Plaza area of Long Island City.

H&R paid $55.6 million for a 50% stake in the land, which it is acquired 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 development site 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 three towers would rise at 28-34 Jackson Avenue, 28-10 Jackson Avenue and 30-02 Queens Boulevard.

The 53-story, 501,000-square-foot building at 28-34 Jackson would hold 658 apartments and a ground-floor retail space.

The other properties will be a 44-story, 521,000-square-foot tower with 683 rentals on Jackson Avenue and a 33-story, 365,000-square-foot tower with 448 rentals.

Construction will begin in 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2018. 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, 1,789 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, December 7, 2015

825-Foot Tower to Rise Near Madison Square Park

A developer plans to build a 53-story residential building with 188 units at 15 East 30th Street in Midtown. The 370,000-square-foot structure will rise on a T-shaped plot with entrances located on both East 30th and East 31st streets. The huge new tower will also include 4,100 square feet of ground floor retail space.
Developer J.D. Carlisle has filed plans with the city to build a 53-story, 825-foot-tall residential building just north of Madison Square Park at 30th Street between Madison and Fifth avenues.

The existing five-story buildings on the site will be razed to make way for the new tower.

The new structure, designed by Handel Architects, would soar past the 620-foot tall One Madison and the soon-to-be-constructed 777-foot tower planned for 45 East 22nd Street, making it the tallest building between Chambers Street and the Empire State Building.

The tower, designed by Handel Architects, will have 188 apartments over 370,000 total square feet.

While the developer has not indicated whether the building will hold condominiums or rentals, the 14-foot ceilings point towards luxury units. Apartments in the tower are expected to average around 1,650 square feet.

The neighborhood, around Madison Square Park, has several other new residential and hotel developments in the works as well.

Developer Yitzchak Tessler is building a condo building on Madison Avenue and 33rd Street that is expected to rise at least 40 stories and have 70 units, including six penthouses.

And on Broadway between 29th and 30th streets, a 489-room Virgin Hotel beginning to rise. Richard Branson's new 40-story building will have retail at street level.

Another J.D. Carlisle tower under construction recently topped out just two blocks north along Madison Avenue, between 32nd and 33rd streets.

The 42-story building at 160 Madison Avenue is on track for residency early next year.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Work Set to Start on 900-foot Sutton Place Super-Tower

Work is set to begin on New York City’s newest super-tower – a 900 foot building with 115 units to be developed on Sutton Place by The Bauhouse Group. The real estate development firm is preparing to raze the existing six-story buildings at 426-432 East 58th Street to construct an opulent 80-story tower designed by Norman Foster who, for nine consecutive years, has been voted the world’s "Most Admired Architect."

“Once the existing buildings on our site have been demolished, we will begin constructing one of the most highly-anticipated residential buildings in New York City,” said Joseph Beninati, managing member of the Bauhouse Group.

“These permits signal exciting progress for the project, and we believe that our world class team and union contractors will develop a building that mirrors the elegance and storied past of the Sutton Place neighborhood,” said Mr. Beninati

The Bauhouse Group bought up the properties at 426-432 East 58th Street in June of 2015 for $32 million. Additionally, the developer shelled out $37.9 million to purchase 270,000 square feet of unused air rights from other buildings that will remain on the same block, enabling the construction of the residential tower.

Slim, super-tall towers are fueling an extraordinary building boom, particularly along a stretch of 57th Street known as Billionaire’s Row, where at least eight skyscrapers are underway with apartments selling for tens of millions of dollars, primarily to foreign investors.

click to enlarge
The lure of oversize profits is unmistakable. Builders are now planning residential skyscrapers as tall as the Empire State Building in areas once unthinkable: Downtown Brooklyn; Long Island City, Queens; and on a parcel next to the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan.

Some New Yorkers are exhausted by the relentless pace of construction that has transformed one neighborhood after another. Residents of Sutton Place have fought the project fiercely, organizing protests against the tower and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a rezoning of the area that would impose a height limit on new buildings in the neighborhood.

One resident, Mr. Herndon Werth, 81, was offered $1 million, a rent-free apartment for life and moving expenses if he would vacate his rent-regulated studio on the top floor of a six-story brownstone at 434 East 58th Street to make way for the skyscraper. He declined.

“There is no precedent for a 900-foot mega-tower to be built on a narrow, one-lane, residential side-street like the one planned on East 58th,” Lisa Mercurio, a spokeswoman for the East River 50s Alliance.

However, the 900-foot building can be constructed “as-of-right”, meaning no more public review from the city or state is necessary, leaving foes with few options aside from trying to rezone the neighborhood before the tower has substantially begun to rise.

Bauhouse has an extraordinary opportunity due to deploying $150 million over the last two years before the run up in Manhattan land prices on all the pieces needed to complete this assemblage.

As a result, and together with the extraordinary 360-degree views and its historic location, they expect to attract a robust demand for the completed project.

In addition to the Sutton Place assemblage, The Bauhouse Group is developing 515 Highline, a luxury condominium at 515 West 29th Street – the only location in Manhattan framed on two sides by the famed High Line Park.

The $125 million development has been designed by architect Soo K. Chan, and will feature residences ranging in price from $5 million to $9.5 million. 515 Highline is slated to be completed in late 2016.

Bauhouse’s Sutton Place development is expected to cost about $650 million and is slated for completion in spring of 2019.

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